Connecticut sports betting and online casino gaming is one step closer to becoming reality in 2021 following a deal between the state’s two federally recognized tribes – the Mohegans (of Mohegan Sun fame) and the Mashantucket Pequots – and the state’s Governor.
The online sports and casino legislation, drafted in four separate bills, now head to the House and Senate for their respective approval. The aim of the legislative push is intended to modernize and expand gambling in Connecticut as finally agreed to after years of negotiations between the Governor Ned Lamont’s administration and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, who run the two state’s casinos.
If the bills become law, the state of Connecticut would become only the third U.S. state after the Keystone State of Pennsylvania and the newly-launched legal online casino and sports betting state of Michigan to launch online casinos and sportsbooks simultaneously.
What the 4 Sports Betting Bills look to legalize in Connecticut
The bills to be presented before Connecticut’s lawmakers are seeking to legalize online and bricks-and-mortar sports betting plus online casinos, online keno and for the state’s lottery to also become available online. The state’s only parimutuel operator, Sportech, is opposed to bills, however, the new compacts with state’s federally recognized tribes are far more important key stakeholders to have onboard.
The new state tribal compacts allow for online sports betting within the state lines of Connecticut and give each tribal land-based casino and the state lottery one online sports betting license each. Sportech will be permitted to offer sports betting at land-based sportsbooks under the details of the compact, however, Sportech wants more than it is likely to receive and are considering legal action to receive it should the bills be voted into state law.
If adopted, Connecticut would become only the third New England state behind Rhode Island and New Hampshire to launch sports betting. However, significantly, it would be become the only New England state to have legal online casino gaming which could be an important point of difference. That could lead to many New Englanders crossing behind Connecticut state lines to play their online casino games, much like New Yorkers have done with nearby New Jersey.
The Details of the Connecticut Gaming Agreement
The license agreement with the tribes would be for 10 years, with a five-year extension option.
Other key components include:
- Connecticut Lottery Corporation to oversee the industry.
- An 18% tax rate for the first five years on online casinos, followed by a 20% tax rate for the next five years at least.
- A 13.75% tax rate on sports betting.
- 15 land-based sports betting locations all allowed 1 online sportsbook license.
- Sublicense locations for the state-licensed parimutuel operator and new land-based sports betting venues in Bridgeport and Hartford.
- Online Keno and online lottery tickets.
What Are the Next Steps?
Pending a positive outcome once lawmakers have voted on the legislation, the State House’s Public Safety and Security Committee will need to establish timelines on instituting the uptake of sports betting, presumably in time for the beginning of the 2021/22 NFL season.
Connecticut’s state tribes have already begun aligning themselves with the big national online sportsbooks in readiness. The Mashantucket Pequot tribe has already entered into a partnership agreement with DraftKings. The Mohegan tribe have not yet made any formal announcement as to their potential sportsbook.
It may go with FanDuel to pitch itself into direct competition with the Mashantucket Pequots. However, it is more likely that the Mohegans choose a Kambi-powered online sportsbook like 888Sport or Unibet as the tribe already has an agreement with Kambi to provide its accountancy and back-office technology.