In a surprising move, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont included sports betting revenues in his budget for 2023. This follows his recent filing of a bill that would allow the state’s tribal casinos to operate sportsbooks and online casinos.
Speaking of the move to expand tribal gaming, Gov. Lamont said:
“Our neighboring states are moving forward with sports betting and i-gaming, and Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction,”
However, the sports betting bill has come up against some opposition such as Ted Taylor, the president of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. He argued that sports betting in particular should be available to all existing Connecticut gambling operators and not just the tribal casinos.
He told the house:
“We can’t find anybody else from a legal perspective that doesn’t work for the tribes… who has said they have exclusivity,”
For their part, the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan tribes have made it clear that they refuse to allow sports betting to go ahead in Connecticut unless they are in control. Their current gaming compact gives them exclusive gaming rights with 25% of all slot revenue going to the state. The tribes maintain that ‘gaming rights’ includes wagering of all types and that includes sports betting either online or at casinos.
Gov. Lamont suggested that the only way forward was to accept the tribe’s stance:
“My administration has been in active negotiations with our tribal partners to bring the state’s gaming economy into the digital age. And I am submitting legislation which reflects what I believe to be the best bet in ending this stalemate of inaction in a way which is in the best interest for the entire state.”
While this is great news for residents of the Constitution State, the house still must pass sports betting bill SB146. The bill has considerable support from both chambers and with Gov. Lamont intent on pushing it through, sports betting could finally be coming to Connecticut.
DraftKings and Kambi will be hoping that the bill passes without any amendments to include other gambling operators. Both have deals with the tribes to run sports betting operations which would give them exclusive access to the state’s potential market of 3.6 million people.