New Connecticut Sports Betting Bill Will Face Tough Test
Last week, the state held a lengthy sports betting hearing to discuss the pros and cons of expanding gambling within the state. Bill HB 7331 was the result of this hearing. However, this bill is contingent upon the state negotiating a new compact with the Native American tribes that currently run the state’s casinos.
More Details About Bill HB 7331
This bill, titled “An Act Concerning Sports Wagering In The State” was filed by the House Public Safety and Security Committee’s chairman, Joe Verrengia. It would legalize mobile betting across Connecticut and would also allow the state lottery, off-track betting parlors, and casinos to run sportsbooks.
Bettors could wager on both professional and college games. Online betting would be legal, but users would first be required to register in person for an online betting account at an off-track betting parlor, casino, or any of the state’s lottery offices.
Operators will be taxed on their wagering gross revenue at a rate of 9.89 percent. The application fee will be $100,000 and the renewal fee would be the same. Money would go to the General Fund, with 0.5 percent designated for Regional Behaviour Health Action Organization.
One surprise to the bill is that it would require Connecticut to “seek partnerships” with pro sports leagues and their governing bodies to cultivate the possibility of hosting events:
“The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development shall seek partnerships with professional sports leagues and governing bodies to promote sports activities and economic development in this state. The commissioner shall contact representatives of Major League Baseball, the Professional Golfers’ Association, the Ladies Professional Golf Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League and any other professional sports league or governing body the commissioner identifies.”
Furthermore, the bill also would require, by 2020, the commissioner to report activities during 2019 that were done to develop partnerships with pro sports leagues and governing bodies. The commissioner would also be required to schedule “at least three major professional events in the state each year.”
Connecticut Tribes Hold All of the Power
Connecticut has been unable to legalize sports gambling over the last two years. This is due to the state’s inability to re-negotiate the tribal compact. Currently, tribal casinos are the main source of gambling within the state. The tribes believe they have the exclusive right to offer gambling in CT and that includes sports betting if it becomes legal. HB 7331 could run into problems because the bill allows for sports gambling through commercial operators as well, which the tribes vehemently oppose.
With opposition from tribes, and the section declaring that there needs to be partnerships with sports leagues, it’s hard to imagine that Connecticut will be legalizing sports betting for quite some time.
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