Is That The Integrity Fee's Music We Hear?
Legal Sports Report

Could The Integrity Fee Make An Unlikely Comeback In Connecticut?

Integrity fee

A lawmaker pushing for Connecticut sports betting legislation said legislators will reconsider the inclusion of an integrity fee to professional sports leagues.

After watching six states create regulated sports betting markets in 2018 without providing a cut to the leagues, Verrengia expects Connecticut to take a different approach this year.

“Given the time that has passed, we’re obviously going to revisit the issue of an integrity fee,” Verrengia said. “I’m not interested in an integrity fee that is just sending a check to the leagues at the end of each month.”

Connecticut almost became first with integrity fee

Before the PASPA decision that opened it up states to pursue legal sports betting, Verrengia held hearings in his Public Safety and Security Committee.

A year ago, representatives of the NBA and MLB made their case for an integrity fee at one of those hearings.

The hearing didn’t go well for the leagues, as legislators pushed back against the idea of giving the leagues a percentage of each wager. Verrengia said he wasn’t interested in “lining the pockets” of major-league sports owners.

However, in a last-ditch effort to move the bill before the legislative session ended in May, Verrengia filed amendments that would have given the leagues 0.25 percent of handle. The amendments failed and the bill didn’t pass.

Integrity fee still possible in different form

Verrengia wouldn’t support writing a royalty check to the leagues. He wouldn’t mind partnering with the leagues to put part of the money made from sports betting into a program supporting youth sports in the state.

He broached the topic of using a fee for that purpose with league representatives last year and received an encouraging response.

“We would create a sports commission including the professional sports entities,” Verrengia said. “They were all for it. They thought it was a great idea because it would benefit the state and have also help them grow their market as well. I would like to see that happen.”

Mobile wagering faces resistance

There was another late effort to authorize sports betting in Connecticut last year when then-Gov. Dannel Malloy tried to call a special legislative session to approve renegotiated tribal compacts.

If the governor’s proposal passed last year, Verrengia indicated it would have limited such betting to brick-and-mortar casinos.

With tribes wanting to keep mobile limited to on-site, Verrengia believes that the challenge will be to push for a statewide mobile platform with in-game betting.

“I’m a big proponent that any sports betting bill to be voted on would have to include a mobile platform to be used statewide,” Verrengia added. “The evidence is overwhelming that that’s where the real money is – in the mobile platform.

“Not to include it in legislation would be shortsighted on the part of the legislature.”

Matthew Kredell
- Matthew started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News, where he covered the NFL, Kobe-Shaq three-peat, Pete Carroll’s USC football teams, USC basketball, pro tennis, Kings hockey and fulfilled his childhood dream of sitting in the Dodgers’ dugout. His reporting on efforts to legalize sports betting began in 2010, when Playboy Magazine flew him to Prague to hang out with Calvin Ayre and show how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting expansion of regulated sports betting across the country. A USC journalism alum, Matt also has written on a variety of topics for Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.
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