All Signs Point To Connecticut Legalizing Sports Betting In 2021

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Connecticut sports betting

For years, talks of expanded gambling and sports betting has brought arguments and legal threats in the state of Connecticut.

The situation appears much different now.

Multiple reports from local media in Connecticut suggest sports betting in Connecticut might be the closest thing to a slam dunk the industry’s seen.

CT sports betting has been in the news recently after the Mashantucket Pequot Indians, who operate Foxwoods casino, announced they would partner with DraftKings Sportsbook for online sports betting and daily fantasy sports.

Gov. Lamont backs iGaming, sports betting in Connecticut

Gov. Ned Lamont sounds like he’s done fighting for an open market and is ready to give exclusivity to the state’s two gaming tribes, according to the CT Mirror.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indians have exclusive gaming rights in Connecticut in exchange for 25% of slot revenue. They contend those exclusive rights include sports betting as well.

Lamont originally wanted the tribes to have competition in the state but has changed his tune:

“[Online gambling] is something that’s going on all around us, and I think Connecticut should participate. If we found out anything in the course of this horrible COVID cycle, more and more of the world is going virtual, more and more of the world is going online. That’s tele-health and tele-learning, but it’s also iGaming and sports betting. And I don’t think you want Connecticut left behind.”

Connecticut isn’t quite surrounded by legal online sports betting just yet, but it could be soon. Rhode Island on its eastern border recently opened its market to allow remote registration.

Legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts to the north seems like a strong possibility for next year while New York seems to always be close to legalizing mobile sports betting.

Rep. Scanlon ‘guarantees’ legal CT sports betting

Lamont makes it clear he wants to see gaming expansion happen, but doesn’t quite guarantee it’s coming. But Rep. Sean Scanlon did just that in a conversation with Native Business magazine.

Scanlon is the incoming House co-chair of the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, so it makes sense he’d be in the know about topics that should bring revenue to the state:

“Sports betting will be legalized in 2021. You can bet on it.”

Positive comments from tribal leaders, too

Representatives from both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indians spoke positively to the Mirror about gaming expansion in the state.

“We’ve had ongoing conversations with the governor,” said Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler. “He has been engaged, and we’re looking forward to getting into much more detailed conversations.”

“Certainly the pandemic has been a challenge to all of us globally, but I think it has brought some clarity to this industry and what the future may hold for our partnership,” added Chuck Bunnell, chief of staff of the Mohegan Tribal Nation.

Tribes backed off joint Connecticut casino

Another sign of positive communication between the two sides could be the immediate end of plans for a joint casino.

On Wednesday, the tribes announced they were temporarily suspending plans for the Tribal Winds casino. The official reason is because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposed location is a 15-mile drive on I-91 away from MGM Springfield in Massachusetts. The idea was to put a casino closer so those dollars wouldn’t leave the tribes and the state.

Lamont regularly asked the tribes to drop the idea and focus on expansion elsewhere in the state. MGM Resorts has fought the project for years and currently has a federal lawsuit filed against the Department of the Interior.

Dropping the project wasn’t required as part of a deal for expanded gaming, Lamont said according to the Hartford Courant. But he certainly wasn’t mad about it:

“No, it wasn’t a condition, but I think you know it was a source of aggravation to some of the outside casino places that had objections there,’’ Lamont said. “We’re trying to reach an accommodation where we can get sports betting and even iGaming going in the state – doing it in a way that doesn’t prompt a litigation war of sorts, and we’re trying to work that through.”