Connecticut sports betting and online casino gaming have taken a huge step towards becoming reality, after State Governor Ned Lamont included revenue from online gaming included in his two-year state budget.
Last week, the Connecticut Governor indicated that he expects almost $50 million across two years to be raised. The Governor’s comments show his extreme optimism that the State Legislature and the Tribal Casino operators will come to an agreement to introduce sports betting sooner rather than later.
With the announcement, he also opened a sports wagering bill for debate, Governor’s Bill LCO 3281 which seeks to expand the state’s tribal casino gaming compacts to include both online casino play and online sports wagering.
The Governor laid out his wishes to essentially acquiesce to the Connecticut Tribes in his accompanying remarks;
“Our neighboring states are moving forward with sports betting and igaming, and Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction,” Lamont explained in his budget address.
“My administration has been in active negotiations with our tribal partners to bring the state’s gaming economy into the digital age. And I am submitting legislation which reflects what I believe to be the best bet in ending this stalemate of inaction in a way which is in the best interest for the entire state” he continued.
In addition, the bill proposes that the Connecticut Lottery Corporation can legally sell online lottery game tickets and organize online keno games. However, the bill also states that the legalization of Connecticut sports betting, online gambling, in addition to selling of online keno games and game tickets will be subject to “new or amended agreements” with the Native American tribes.
Don’t expect immediate change in CT; it will take time
Although the Governor’s bill has been lodged already, it doesn’t mean that legalization will happen immediately. The Connecticut General Assembly will still need to vote on the bill during the 2021 legislative session, set to conclude on June 9, giving lawmakers four months to decide whether or not to approval legal Connecticut online sports betting and online casino play.
However, like many states, the global pandemic has ravaged the revenues of Connecticut. Some legislators went on the record following the Governor’s budget remarks that legal sports betting can assist the state to offset projected revenue losses and that could possibly convince the state’s lawmakers to pass the bill quickly.
If in fact the bill is passed, it will theoretically not take effect until 2022, in time for fiscal year 2023. According to Democratic legislators in Connecticut, if legal sports betting progress as the time line suggests once the bill is passed, they could potentially see an increase in annual revenues by $47.3 million in 2023.
While it is frustrating for sports bettors to wait so long, the time required will be to get it right by instating a set of procedures and data security standards ensuring the highest possible standards of player protections.
Connecticut in good company in the North East
Looking at legalizing sports betting, Connecticut is in good company with its nearest neighbors. To the north, Massachusetts is in a similar situation, with the state considering ongoing legislation, but yet to fully find for online sports betting.
Meanwhile, in nearby New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants a lottery-based sports betting model while state legislators are looking at a potential casino-based sports betting model. Debate is on-going.
Finally, New Jersey is the gold standard for both online sports betting and online casino play against which all other states must measure themselves against. Connecticut should look no look no further than to New Jersey for guidance as they consider setting up their own sports wagering industry.