• In 2017, a Connecticut sports betting bill was signed into law that would allow for the state to create regulations in the event that PASPA was repealed.
  • There was a total of three different CT sports betting bills introduced in the 2019 legislative session.
  • Tribal casinos paid nearly $253 million in state taxes last year for their exclusive rights to offer slot machines.

HARTFORD, Conn. – The 2019 legislative session may have already ended in Connecticut, but that has not stopped a group of bipartisan lawmakers from drafting a new CT sports betting bill.

Titled, “An Act Concerning Jobs In and Revenue from the Gaming Industry“, the proposal would give the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes the exclusive rights to open sportsbooks at their land-based casinos as well as give them the ability to offer online sports betting, poker, and other casino games.

The tribes would even be able to build a jointly run casino in Bridgeport as well as pursue a joint venture to build a satellite casino in East Windsor named Tribal Winds.

James Gessner, interim chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, and Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, both expressed their gratitude for the bipartisan support on the draft bill to the Hartford Courant.

“We’ve long believed that the best way forward for the state is to protect and preserve the historic partnership with our two tribes, one that’s generated more than $8 billion in revenue for Connecticut,” they said.

The current tribal compact the state has with the tribes gives them the exclusive right to offer slot machines. A 25% tax is placed on slot machine revenue, and in the budget year that ended June 30, the tribes paid close to $253 million.

While the bill has clear support from the state’s tribes, CT Governor Ned Lamont is not completely sold on the measure quite yet. Gov. Lamont’s office issued a statement earlier this week pointing out areas of concern.

“A matter of such significance requires substantial involvement from multiple stakeholders, in particular, the executive branch. Something this complex should not be negotiated without all necessary parties and certainly not behind closed doors.”

The threat of legal action from multiple stakeholders is a key area of concern for Gov. Lamont.

According to the Hartford Courant, Sportech, the operator of off-track betting in the state, said that sports wagering exclusivity given the tribes could prompt the operator to file a lawsuit. Their stance is that legal sports betting licenses should be awarded to all gaming facilities in the state.

“Any deviation from that creates [a] legal challenge and does a massive disservice to the constituents of Connecticut,” said Richard McGuire, CEO of Sportech.

MGM Resort has also said previously that it would “vigorously advocate in the courts” when referring to building a casino in the Bridgeport area.

However, Senator Cathy Osten, author An Act Concerning Jobs In and Revenue from the Gaming Industry, has shown that she is not worried about a lawsuit from MGM.

“MGM is a litigious company,” said Osten. “They have sued many people. That’s what they’ve done in the state of Connecticut, to stymie growth in business.”

While Osten may not be as concerned with potential lawsuits, Gov. Lamont’s office has shown that they are.

“While we are appreciative of Senator Osten’s efforts and that of the various delegations, the administration’s position remains the same: a global resolution that mitigates the likelihood of years of litigation and positions the state to capitalize on a comprehensive gaming platform.”

In order for Osten’s CT sports betting bill to be passed this year the legislature will have to convene for a special session. A date for that has not yet been set. If a special session cannot be conducted, the soonest the bill can be introduced in the legislature is January 9, 2020.

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