As expected, sports betting in Connecticut moved another step closer to legalization after approval in the Senate.
HB 6451 authorizes Gov. Ned Lamont to sign renegotiated gaming compacts with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indians. The bill passed the Senate late Tuesday night, 28-6, after a lengthy day of debate. The bill quickly passed the House last week.
The compacts will head to the federal Department of Interior for approval after Lamont formally approves them. That could come quickly, Sen. Cathy Osten suggested on the Senate floor:
“I’m hoping that the governor signs it tonight and that we send it down to the Bureau of Indian Affairs where it should get quick review and come back to us, so that those people who like sports betting and online gaming will be able to participate as early as this fall.”
The hope is for sports betting in Connecticut to begin around the start of the NFL season in September.
Connecticut sports betting under fire from opposition
Multiple senators voiced displeasure with some of the bill’s content, even though they knew it would pass.
Sen. Tony Hwang talked about how legal sports betting increased gambling addiction in New Jersey and changed how sports are consumed in Australia. He eventually called for additional funds to be contributed to problem gambling once the money is handled by an appropriations committee next year.
Hwang also warned about the onslaught of gambling ads coming to Connecticut:
“If you thought you saw enough commercials of DraftKings in any sporting venue that you see now, just imagine – just wait! The idea that we will now approve sports gambling, your airwaves and any sporting event you will look at and see will be flooded with calls, flooded with TV ads promoting the quick rich dynamic of betting on a sports game.”
No help for fantasy
Although the bill passed by the Senate included a new licensing system for online sports betting, iGaming and fantasy sports, it doesn’t not appear the fantasy industry found the help it wanted.
The expanded gaming agreement puts fantasy sports, including daily fantasy sports contests, under the two master licenses of the tribes. That means operators will have to stop taking fantasy sports entries until they can get licensed.
There is concern the entire NFL season could be lost, Peter Schoenke of the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association told LSR.
Lamont’s chief of staff Paul Mounds is talking with DraftKings directly to find a solution, according to News 12 Connecticut.
Final CT sports betting license proposals due soon
Lamont’s signature also starts a two-week period for hopeful operators invited to submit final proposals for the state’s last betting skin.
The Mashantucket Pequot partnered with DraftKings Sportsbook while Mohegan is partnered with Kambi. That final skin belongs to the Connecticut Lottery, which kicked off an RFP process to find its betting partner last month.
Those proposals would be due June 9 should Lamont sign the legislation Wednesday. The Lottery asked four operators to submit final bids, though any operator can submit a bid. Originally, 15 companies showed interest in partnering with the Lottery.
The timeline listed in the RFP had a two-week gap between the final submission date and selection of a winner. That suggests the Lottery might pick a winner by June 23 on the updated timeline.
Along with the online skin, the Lottery can operate up to 15 retail sports betting locations throughout the state.