There’s finally a tribal agreement in place that will let Connecticut legalize sports betting and iGaming.
Well, at least partially.
Gov. Ned Lamont and the Mohegan Indians announced an agreement a long time in the making – but only them. Notably missing was the Mashantucket Pequot from the announcement.
That’s because there’s still one financial point to negotiate between Lamont’s office and the Mashantucket Pequot, Chairman Rodney Butler said at a Joint Public Safety and Security Committee meeting earlier Tuesday.
The Connecticut Lottery and OTB operator Sportech can also get involved in CT sports betting through the agreement.
Details on Connecticut sports betting agreement
There were very few details given on negotiations at the committee meeting Tuesday other than an official announcement could be coming as soon as the afternoon.
The announcement finally broke out some of the finer details of the agreement:
- Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 13.75%. iGaming will be taxed at 20%.
- The Lottery can operate 15 retail sports betting locations as well as one online skin. There will also be new Lottery-run sports betting venues in Bridgeport and Hartford.
- The Lottery can sub-license some of those operations to Sportech, but Sportech will not get operations or an online skin of its own.
Mohegan signed Kambi as a sportsbook partner nearly two years ago.
Butler didn’t expect two-sided announcement
Lamont’s Chief of Staff Paul Mounds said an announcement could be made Tuesday even if just one tribal operator agreed.
Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler was skeptical of that, though:
“This is a three-party deal and it takes all three parties for it to move forward. So the suggestion that there will be an announcement with one tribe or another tribe, it just goes at the heart of this deal and what it isn’t and what can’t be possible.
“So we’ll continue to work together and I know we’ll get through this last point. It’ll be successful for not only the two tribes but incredibly favorable for the state of Connecticut. I’m certain you’ll recognize that when you see those terms as the come forward, hopefully as Paul mentioned this afternoon with all of us in agreement.”
No details on what final negotiation point is
Butler didn’t say what the final sticking point was for the negotiations, though he did say it is a much bigger deal for his tribe than the state.
“In the context of this deal, this point is insignificant,” Butler said. “More so for the state, it’s insignificant. It’s a revenue question which is less than a rounding error for the state but to my nation it means sustainability.”
Butler later mentioned the amount is about $1 million. That’s compared to the state budget of $23 billion versus the Mashantucket Pequot’s budget that’s in the tens of millions, he added.
Butler: negotiations include more revenue than Lamont expected
Lamont is banking on sports betting and iGaming being legalized this year. He included $47 million in revenue from the two into his budget starting in fiscal 2022.
Butler praised the “exceptional job” Lamont’s team has done negotiating. He does appear to believe there is room for continued movement.
“The deal on the table today significantly exceeds those numbers,” Butler said. “Significantly. So you’ll be pleased, the citizens of Connecticut will be pleased, we’ll all be pleased at the end.”
Is sports betting a casino game?
One longstanding topic that could be the main focus of an eventual lawsuit was skirted around by the governor’s team.
Rep. Alphonse Paolillo pressed the governor’s representatives on whether the administration believes sports betting is a casino game or not.
“I can’t answer that but in terms of what’s relevant, in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish here, we’re trying to reach an agreement,” said David Lehman, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. “Obviously there’s been different opinions over time on the question you’re asking.”
The question is an important one because of others who get locked out of sports betting. That might include the Connecticut Lottery and pari-mutuel wagering operator Sportech.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot have exclusivity to casino gaming in the state, so the two point to arguments that classify sports betting as such a game. So far, the Connecticut Lottery and Sportech have not been a part of the negotiations, various parties confirmed Tuesday.