Connecticut Sports Betting Bill Passes House on a 122-21 Vote

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Legal Connecticut sports betting may be coming very soon after the state House of Representatives approved on Thursday a long-awaited gambling agreement signed between Gov. Ned Lamont and the state’s two federally-recognized tribes.

The bill directs the Governor to amend the state’s compacts with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to allow both to offer legal Connecticut sports betting, online gambling, and online fantasy contests in exchange for a share of their gambling revenues.

With a vote of 122 to 21 in favor of the legislation, is now headed to the Senate. If, as expected, it passes the Senate, the amended agreements will then need federal approval.

Said Rep, Maria Horn, the co-chair of the Public Safety Committee in the house:

“This bill that we see tonight is the culmination of many, many years of work heading in many directions in Connecticut.”

Retail and Internet Sports Gambling in 15 locations

The agreement allows the State Lottery Corporation to offer online and retail Connecticut sports betting at 15 different locations, including two specifically located in Hartford and Bridgeport.

Tax rates for internet gambling will be a 18% of gross revenues for the first five years of operations, and 20% for the next five years, with an option to continue for another five years. Retail Connecticut sports betting and fantasy sports betting will be taxed at 13.75% of gross revenues.

Not Everyone is Pleased

But while the supporters of the Connecticut sports betting bill rejoiced, not everyone was pleased. East Windsor area lawmakers voted against the agreement which prevents the tribes from building a planned satellite casino in town to compete with the MGM casino in nearby Springfield during the first 10 years of the new agreement with the state.

Meanwhile, state-licensed parimutuel operator Sportech questioned the constitutionality of the agreement while expressing hope that it could reach a similar agreement with the state. According to Paul Mounds, the chief of staff of the governor, the deal allows the Lottery to sublicense the sports betting operations to Sportech.

Connecticut Lottery Says it Received 15 Applications for Sports Betting Licenses

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The Connecticut Lottery announced on Monday that it received a total of 15 applications for legal Connecticut sports betting in response to its Request for Qualifications sent earlier this month.

Said Connecticut Lottery Corporation chairman Rob Simmelkjaer:

“We are pleased to see significant interest from companies who would like to partner with the CLC to bring our online and retail sports betting offering to market. Our staff and board will now begin a process of carefully reviewing the qualifications of the submitting parties as we work towards choosing the right partner in this important initiative for our state.”

Chairman Simmelkjaer added that the Lottery will issue invitations for presentations for qualified applications after which they will choose finalists who will be required to submit formal business plans.

Deal with Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and Mohegan Tribe

Last month, Gov. Ned Lamont reached a deal with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes that would pave the way for legal Connecticut sports betting hopefully before the start of the 2021 NFL season.

The agreement included an 18% tax rate on new online gaming for the first five years of operation and 20% tax rate for the next five years. Sports betting would be levied a tax rate of 13.5% according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The deal, which gives exclusive rights to the tribe and the Lottery to operate legal Connecticut sports betting, still has to get the approval of the State Legislature and the United States Department of the Interior.

Request for Qualifications

Last April 12th, the Connecticut Lottery sent out a Request for Qualifications package with an April 23 deadline. The solicitation was for “qualified and experienced sports betting solution providers for online and retail sports wagering systems and services.

Under the RFQ, two larger retail locations are envisioned for Hartford and Bridgeport while other locations may be withing existing off-track-betting (OTB) locations of the state’s current OTB operator, or may be coordinated within existing lottery-licensed locations.

The RFQ also predicts a tentative timeline between mid-May and mid-June for the signing of a contract with an operator with the systems to be developed and tested by summer. The expected launch of Connecticut sports betting is on September 6th.

Gov. Ned Lamont and Mohegan Tribe Agree to Expand Gaming in Connecticut

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The state of Connecticut has reached an agreement with the Mohegan Tribe, the owners of the Mohegan Sun Casino in Ucansville, Connecticut, to expand gaming in the state, including online gaming and sports betting. The deal however, was made without the state’s other tribal nation.

In a written statement, Governor Lamont said:

“This agreement represents months of hard work and dedication to getting a deal that’s best for the residents of Connecticut and moves our state forward when it comes to the future of gaming. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a devoted partner in these efforts like the Mohegan Tribe, as they have been open to negotiation, honest discussion, and a positive path forward that is beneficial for both their tribe and the State of Connecticut.”

The governor’s office says that the deal is worth “tens of millions” of additional revenue to the state. Lamont is banking that iGaming and Connecticut sports betting will be legalized this year. He already included $47M in revenue from the two into his budget starting in fiscal 2022.

Details of Connecticut Sports Betting Agreement

Under the deal, a 20% tax rate will be levied on new online gaming while a 13.5% tax rate will be imposed on Connecticut sports betting. The agreement is good for 10 years and has a five-year expansion option.

As part of the deal, the Connecticut Lottery will be allowed to operate 15 retail sports betting shops, including new ones in Hartford and Bridgeport. The Lottery can also sub-license some of the operations to Sportech but Sportech will not get operations or an online skin of its own.

Eastern Connecticut Lawmakers Upset

Meanwhile, the members of the Eastern Connecticut said that the “cannot accept” any gambling expansion agreement reached by Gov. Ned Lamont and the Mohegan Tribe if it does not include the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. The bipartisan group sent a letter to the Governor urging him and the state’s two federally recognized tribes to complete an agreement by Sunday.

Rodney Butler, the chair of the Mashantucket Pequots said on Tuesday that it was “disrespectful” for the Governor to announce a gambling agreement with only one tribe when the Mashantucket Pequots have been actively participating in the discussions for months and in good faith. Butler however said that his group is open to continuing the discussions but has a financial issue with the deal.