Lawmakers and Tribes of the state are disputing a CT sports betting bill.

  • No resolution is in sight for sports betting legalization in Connecticut.
  • CT SB21, a bill that would legalize gambling on sports in Connecticut is not moving forward because the Tribes and lawmakers want different things out of the bill.
  • A full draft of CT SB 21 will be heard on the Committee floor on February 25.

HARTFORD, Conn. – Bill CT SB21 that would allow legal sports betting in Connecticut has stalled upon discussions in the House. The standstill is due to lawmakers and the Tribes of CT not wanting to budge when it comes to stipulations within CT SB21.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut would have the exclusive rights to sports betting operations in the Nutmeg State as is documented in the current paperwork.

The Reason Behind “Groundhog Day”

Committee members have called the topic “Groundhog Day” after the movie starring Bill Murray where he continues to relive the same day over and over again as the argument over sports betting legalization remains the same. CT SB 21 would appease the Tribes but not commercial businesses.

With the Tribes having the monopoly on sportsbooks in Connecticut, MGM’s almost $1 billion endeavor to operate a casino in Springfield with the thought of being able to open a sports betting lounge would be moot.

If the bill becomes law, MGM could file lawsuits against the state as they opened with the belief that one day, they’d have sports betting at their location.

“Let’s just move forward, get it done, get it in place, be competitive in the region,” said Mashantucket Pequot chairman Rodney Butler. “We just sit on our hands and spin and spin and spin and refer to ‘Groundhog Day.’ It’s a sad reality.”

Butler believes that CT SB 21 should become law and have legal sports betting in Connecticut take the risk of any lawsuit that MGM may place upon them.

Representative Russ Morin would like to see amendments made that would include all businesses that are in the gaming market. However, the Tribes do not want any such amendments and this is where the problem begins and ends.

“I don’t understand why, when there could be a great benefit to all players involved, why we can’t come up with something where we’ll all part of it,” said Morin. “I’m getting tired of sitting here and listening over and over and over again to the same questions and the same dialogue, but there’s really no solution.”

The Bottom Line

Both parties have until June 5 to come up with a resolution. The Legislative session for Connecticut ends then. If “Groundhog Day” continues, there will be no legal sports betting for the Nutmeg State in 2020. Will lawmakers risk a potential lawsuit by MGM while simultaneously cutting out all non-tribal businesses from access to run sportsbooks? Or will the Tribes concede and give everyone a chance to be part of the legal sports betting market? Only time will tell.

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