Native American gaming tribes and lawmakers in Connecticut can’t seem to see eye to eye when it comes to sports betting.
Across the United States, there are Native American tribes that offer casino gaming in individual states. To be able to do this, the tribes must be federally recognized and have permission to offer gaming. The tribes will create an agreement or compact with the state, with wording noting what games can be offered and what the tribe will provide in return. In most cases, the tribe will pay a fee of some sort to be able to regulate themselves when it comes to casino gaming. When a new gaming option comes into consideration within a given state, the tribe then gets a say so. In Connecticut, a war is waging involving sports betting. The tribes offering gaming are none too happy with lawmaker’s ideas for sports betting in the state.
Slot Revenue Payment Threat
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes operate a gaming venue each in the state of Connecticut and are trying to see a third venue come to fruition, one that they will operate together. The two are currenltying threatening to stop their slot revenue payments to the state is sports betting is given the go ahead for legalization without their approval.
Soon after the tribe made this announcement, a lawmaker introduced a sports betting bill amendment that would exclude the option from the gambling provisions in the state. This seemingly would be a way to get around having to deal with the tribes when it comes to any gambling changes. This sets up a messy fight that the state will probably regret when it comes to the tribe’s involvement.
The two tribes feel that sports betting being legalized would be in violation of their compacts with the state. The attorney general of the state does not agree.
Currently, 25% of slot revenues from the Mohegan Sun and the Foxwoods Resorts Casino are paid to the state. This equals to around $250 million in annual payments. This would be a huge hit to the state if the gaming operators stop these payments.
What the Tribes Say
It is unclear how the casinos in the state would be able to offer sports betting, but it seems that video kiosks would be used for placing wagers. The tribes say they have the exclusive right to operate video facsimile games in the state. Helga Woods, the Mohegan Attorney General, stated that if Connecticut lawmakers approve video facsimile gaming then the provisions of exclusivity within the compacts would be violated. The slot contribution obligation of the tribes would no longer be valid.
Of course the state then comes back with their own leverage stating that if the compacts were broken then the question of slot machine operations on tribal lands would come into question.
For now, though, it seems lawmakers in the state are not close to passing a sports betting bill during the current session. This lessens the urgency on both sides to try and come to an agreement quickly. The tribes seem to want sports betting, so the two groups should be able to come to some form of consensus. If the state wants to continue to receive the large payments from the tribe and keep the gaming operators happy, they will have to reach some sort of agreement regarding sports betting with the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan.