CT Sports Betting Legislation On Target After Passing Joint Committee

Written By Matthew Waters on March 25, 2021
CT sports betting

Sports betting in CT reached the floor of both legislative chambers after a joint committee moved multiple bills Wednesday.

The Joint Public Safety and Security Committee moved three bills that directly deal with sports betting:

  • HB 6451 is Gov. Ned Lamont‘s bill which incorporates the expanded gaming agreement between his office, the Mashantucket Pequot, and the Mohegan Indians. This would allow both iGaming and sports betting in Connecticut.
  • SB 146 handles some of the finer details created by that agreement, such as where those new tax dollars go.
  • HB 6512 is concerned with consumer protection for sports betting. The bill does not currently (but might eventually) include a betting ban on in-state colleges.

It isn’t only up to the legislature, of course. The amended compact needs to be approved at the federal level by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

That could slow the process but Lamont’s Chief of Staff Paul Mounds hopes sports betting will be live by the NFL season, he said at a Monday press conference.

CT sports betting bills controversial for some

Some committee members, most notably Rep. Craig Fishbein, raised some legality issues with the bills moving forward.

Fishbein repeatedly noted how negotiations among the three sides were not done in public. He also stated the memorandum of understanding between the tribes and the state never considered sports betting when signed in the early 1990’s.

Rep. Kathy Osten – whom Chair Maria Horn called a “tenacious force” in getting these gambling bills across the finish line – explained the situation was not as clear-cut as that. She also noted the state’s attorney general was in the middle on the issue of whether the state could expand gaming just with the tribes or if that had to open up for a public process.

Horn stated it is clear the question of legality around the agreement will continue:

“That is, I can assure you, the subject of much legal conversation and much reflection. There are very few legal clarities with respect to many of the issues that underpin the bills that we’re looking at today. But I do know that it was very carefully constructed and considered to make sure that what we are doing is legal and I certainly have confidence that it is.”

Can Sportech get a piece of online betting?

Those concerns over legality also involved Sportech, the state’s exclusive pari-mutuel horse betting operator. The London-listed company has threatened to sue based on being left out of the agreement.

Sportech technically is included, though. The Connecticut Lottery can sublicense some of its 15 retail betting operations allowed in the agreement to Sportech. And there might be a chance to participate in the online side as well, Horn said:

“I asked the governor’s office specifically this morning whether [Sportech] would have any involvement in the online portion of that and was told that the Lottery will have the ability to partner with Sportech. [The Lottery] will have a skin and they will be able to seek partners. Sportech can participate in seeking partnership with the Lottery.”

CT sports betting details

Here’s what is known so far about the agreement between Lamont and the two tribes:

  • Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 13.75%. The tax rate for iGaming was dropped slightly from the first agreement announced just between Lamont and the Mohegan. Online casino will be taxed at 18% for the first five years before jumping up to 20% for the next five years.
  • The Mashantucket Pequot (partnered with DraftKings Sportsbook), the Mohegan (partnered with Kambi) and the Connecticut Lottery (no partner yet) will each get one online sports betting skin.
  • The Lottery also gets 15 retail sports betting locations. Two of those are specifically required in Bridgeport and Hartford. The 15 locations can be sublicensed to Sportech to operate.
  • The agreement is for 10 years with an option to extend for five more.
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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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