• HB 7331 would permit tribal casinos to offer sports betting in Connecticut.
  • After the first hearing on Feb 26, legislators decided to hear more input.
  • The lottery has been pushing for some entry into the sports betting market.

On Tuesday, the discussion over how legal sports betting in Connecticut will play out continued with the state’s second public hearing. The main topic of discussion? “An Act Concerning Sports Wagering In The State”, also known as House Bill 7331.

Filed and referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Security, the group of legislators has determined to hear all sides of the story before continuing on.

Those who had the floor were granted the opportunity to raise their concerns or recommendations to Committee Co-Chairs Representatives Dennis Bradley (D- Bridgeport) and Joe Verrengia (D- West Hartford) along with additional members of the committee.

Some of the key points included concerns involved introducing a sports betting study while others sought ought efforts to treat problem gaming. Additionally, the lottery wants a cut of the action and the universities want to make themselves as far away from the industry as possible.

With over a dozen people speaking on HB 7331 alone, here is a detailed breakdown of seven quotes to remember after the conclusion of Tuesday’s public hearing regarding Connecticut sports betting:

“The best course of action to ensure that the University is not perceived as profiting from collegiate sports betting. As a result, we ask that no reimbursement for compliance costs be included in sports betting legislation.” – University of Connecticut Athletic Director, David Benedict

The universities of the state, fronted by UCONN’s AD, have remained heavily opposed to sports wagering in Connecticut. They are not opposed to the expansion, but more so the involvement of their schools. With betting scandals remaining in the news for decades, no school wants to have their name in that blurb.

Benedict explained how, with feedback from the NCAA, the University shall recover any costs associated with betting compliance through their “own internal resources”.

With a sort-of integrity fee coming back to the university, the school could be influenced to react a certain way to maneuver the betting lines. Hence, the firm stance from the Athletic Directors of the state regarding their connection with the industry.

Benedict also suggests that the measure is reworded to prohibit Connecticut sportsbooks from offering betting lines on the universities from Connecticut. This would include games played in and outside of the state’s lines.

“Legalizing betting on sporting events presents an opportunity for significant economic impact in total economic output, job wages and local tax revenues in the State.” – John Osenenko, VP-Business Development at Scientific Games International, Inc.

With recent numbers from the American Gaming Association suggesting that 79% of Americans support legalized sports betting, it is safe to say jobs will be created at the startup of the industry.

The report also showed that the Super Bowl was responsible for $6 billion wagered from Americans alone this year.

Osenenko used these numbers to explain how Scientific Games pairing with the Connecticut Lottery would greatly benefit the government. Not only would the state receive the most tax revenue (more on this to come) but it would have responsible gaming control through the additional outlets.

The system is already in effect with lottery retailers by verifying ages and other various measures associated with buying lottery tickets online.

“Giving residents an equally convenient, online market entry mechanism to a legal and licensed betting facility in-state.” – Richard McGuire, Executive Chairman for Sportech PLC

In the bill’s text, Connecticut players who wish to sign up for the online platform must first visit a land-based facility to register. McGuire believes this provides no incentive to deter residents away from their offshore betting sites to the state-operated sportsbooks.

The same security measures could be put in place that are associated with the lottery. Sportech already has the technology to support know-your-customer guidelines as well as a laundering monitor.

This would allow for users to sign up without having to venture to a casino, track, or lottery retailer and instantly get started gambling.

McGuire pointed to sports betting outside of the US as an example, where residents are able to place wagers just about anywhere. If people want to gamble, they are going to gamble – it is just making them come to gamble at your place.

“Ensure that any expansion of gambling includes dedicated funds to prevent and treat gambling addiction” – Diana Goode, Executive Director for Connecticut Council on Problem Gaming

With the widespread support of legal sports betting, there will always be problem gamers. It is inevitable for such a high-adrenaline hobby. However, the bill did not call for any support into helping this backlash.

Goode pointed out that states who have made similar measures have adopted a percentage of revenue to be sent to a fund to support problem gambling. She called for a 1-3% contribution to be made in order to protect the citizens of Connecticut.

The fund would be dedicated to the Chronic Gamblers Treatment & Rehabilitation’s Account.

“If Leagues want to sell their data, this should be through commercial negotiation; not legislative mandates” – David Satz, Senior VP of Government Relations at Caesars Entertainment

Satz believed that adding extra integrity efforts, aside from the common forms from operators across the nation, would be a reinvention of the wheel.

Any official data being released would be made official through contractual obligations; however, it seems unwarranted that the states should have to pay for that benefit.

Other state sports betting operators already establish integrity concerns through improved transparency, the lessening of funds going to offshore betting sites, and even have oversight from a monitoring organization that is located out of their district.

The leagues have, unsuccessfully, been pushing for integrity fees, but it is not up to Connecticut to pay to play with the leagues.

“Reject H.B. 7331, support modifying H.B. 7290 and H.B. 7330 to include a social impact study, and delay any additional expansion of gambling in Connecticut until these studies are complete.” – Deacon David Reynolds

Deacon Reynolds, along with other speakers during the hearing, made it clear that no social impact studies have been made regarding legalizing the industry. Some called for this being a requirement, even setting a deadline in the fall of 2020; however, Reynold pointed out the obvious: there needs to be a required social impact statement, not just a report on gambling trends.

The studies could determine what collateral damage could happen from legalized the industry regarding gambling addiction and debt to broken families and crime.

Though the state may find legalizing the industry lucrative, there is always an equal and opposite reaction – and this could come in the form of the citizens of the state’s well-being.

“Our estimates show that we will return about 4 to 5 times as much money per dollar wagered as any other operator.” Greg Smith, President/CEO of Connecticut Lottery

It appeared that nearly every speaker was either against the industry and in support of legalizing it, as long as the lottery were to get involved. This may be directly related to the sheer numbers of revenue that the lottery could generate comparatively.

Casino and commercial operators are only required to contribute 9.89% of sports betting revenue to the state for tax reasons. The lottery is established differently, where all of the revenue is transferred to the state.

With the full amount potentially headed to the state and the hundreds of lottery retailers in the state, Connecticut could see an extra bang for their buck.

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