Is Legal Connecticut Sports Betting Just Around the Corner?

Is Legal Connecticut Sports Betting Just Around the Corner

Legalized Sports Betting in Connecticut could soon be a reality soon for the states residents. Connecticut Senator Cathy Osten and fellow members of the Southeastern Connecticut legislative delegation have submitted a bipartisan bill to legalize and regulate sports betting in the state. The bill would effectively amend Connecticut’s existing state laws to allow for both in-person and online sports betting at the state’s licensed casinos.

Senator Osten says that the bill, (a full text of the bill is yet-to-be-released to the public), LCO 578 would include age-and-location verification requirements designed to block online access to persons under the age of 21, and those beyond the state lines of Connecticut.

Legal Sports Betting Bill Gets Wide Support

Bill LCO 578 is co-sponsored by those on both sides of aisle; led by Democratic Senators Osten, Steve Cassano, Paul Formica, Heather Somers, and Senator-elect Needleman, and by state Republicans Ryan, Christine Conley, Emmett Riley, Joe de la Cruz, Susan Johnson, Doug Dubitsky, Mike France and Holly Cheeseman. Given wide support from both the major parties, it appears that passing the bill into law maybe easier that once anticipated in the Constitution State. It doesn’t hurt that the winds of change in legal sports betting are currently blowing a fierce gale across the United States, with as many as 15 states looking to legalize sports betting before the next NFL season begins in September 2019.

For its part, the group of Connecticut lawmakers would do well to consult and negotiate wisely with the state’s tribes in clearing-the-way for the passage of LCO 578 into law. Appeasement of the Tribal Casinos requirements will be crucial to a smooth uptake of legal sports betting in Connecticut.

In the spirit of such negotiation, an executive from MGM Resorts International said last week that MGM wants to take Democratic Governor-elect Ned Lamont up on his recent invitation to host a meeting with the tribes and MGM on resolving a positive outcome to the sports betting issue. Uri Clinton, senior vice president and legal counsel for MGM Resorts expressed his enthusiasm for the meeting;

“We agree that such a discussion is in the state’s best interest, and we are prepared to take him up on his suggestion immediately”.

Connecticut Needs to Play Catch-Up and Do It Fast

Senator Osten, who represents the areas of Ledyard and a portion of Montville, home to Connecticut’s two Native American tribes that already offer land-based casinos, clarified the situation:

“Connecticut needs to play catch-up with surrounding states if we’re serious about modernizing our existing gaming industry. Fortunately, we can do that with a relatively simple regulatory fix. Rhode Island has already started this, and Massachusetts is not far behind. This will bring us into line with our neighbors.”

Rhode Island began sports betting in November, and state officials estimate $11.5 million in new state revenue in its first seven months of operation.

Senator Osten continued: “The US Supreme Court decision last year paved the way for the expansion of private sector sports betting, and I think Connecticut is in a good position to take advantage of that. We have the infrastructure with the tribal casinos, we can use the new revenue, and we’ve got bipartisan support. This should be an early session success story.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge to Connecticut’s adoption of sports betting is the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes’ claim that their gaming compacts with the state grant them exclusive access to provide Connecticut sports betting. It’s unclear at this time if federal law around tribal-gaming allows tribes to operate online sports betting beyond their reservations.

Stay tuned, it’s interesting times in Connecticut.