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A new CT sports betting bill focuses solely on authorizing the activity with in-state gambling operators. Whether it solves any of the state’s lingering issues remains to be seen.
It authorizes retail and online sports betting conducted by:
Rep. Joe Verrengia, the co-chair of the committee, is the driving force behind H 5168. He teased its introduction at the committee hearing last week.
Key components of the CT sports betting legislation include:
The committee introduced a sports betting bill last session as well. Facing opposition from the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who were also negotiating behind the scenes with Gov. Ned Lamont, the legislation went nowhere.
Compared to last year’s bill, this effort increases license fees but extends their length from two to five years, adds the higher tax rate for mobile wagers, allows for entertainment zones and limits the lottery to four retail locations.
Two more significant changes are that the bill no longer requires people to have to establish a CT sports wagering account in person prior to placing a wager on a mobile platform. There is no mention of giving professional sports leagues a cut of the action either.
The previous bill had a vague reference to having the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development work with sports leagues to create a partnership in which sports betting revenue was used to generate professional sporting events and programs in the state.
The idea of entertainment zones, or sports betting facilities in major cities, is from the other bill in the state. Sen. Cathy Osten’s S 212 is a comprehensive gaming expansion that gives sports betting in Connecticut exclusivity to tribes.
At last week’s hearing, leaders of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes asserted they would sue the state for breaching their contract for exclusivity to offer casino games if the state passed a law allowing other entities to provide sports betting.
The tribes also would cease making annual payments of approximately $250 million in slot revenue to the state.
Whether CT sports betting is included under the definition of casino games is a key point of contention in the state that may need to be settled in the courts for Connecticut to move forward with sports betting in any fashion.
Verrengia hopes to reach an agreement between the state and tribes to avoid such a situation.
“It’s my hope that the state can continue to work with our tribal friends to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that’s not only good for the state of Connecticut, but also good for the other stakeholders,” Verrengia said. “We have other businesses like the OTBs who have an investment in the state and an investment in jobs. They are licensed to run gaming as well as you. Let’s take care of those entities that are presently licensed in the state of Connecticut and let’s move our sports betting policy forward.”