Rob Simmelkjaer has had the opportunity to try his hand at many different professions over the course of his career. From being a journalist to a TV executive and even being an entrepreneur, there is not much Simmelkjaer has not been able to dom when he sets his mind to it. Recently, Simmelkjaer was nominated to be the Chairman of the Connecticut Lottery Board.
Since taking over as Chairman, Simmelkjaer has been clear about his goals of such as bringing mobile betting to the state of Connecticut. Simmelkjaer has also stressed the importance of establishing the industry before surrounding states, namely New York, do the same. There may have been some hiccups along the way, but eventually, sports betting apps were legalized in Connecticut.
According to Simmelkjaer, allowing Connecticut-based real money sports betting apps to launch before similar apps based out of New York can get up and running will give the Connecticut apps a key advantage on the open market.
Progress So Far
Despite only being in office for a short amount of time, Chairman Simmelkjaer has been able to make significant progress in establishing Connecticut’s mobile sports betting industry. Most notably, Simmelkjaer and the Lottery Board assisted the state of Connecticut in negotiating a new agreement with local tribal leadership.
Under the previous agreement, the Connecticut tribes were given exclusive rights to casino games. According to Simmelkjaer, this was a sticking point in early negotiations. Simmelkjaer discussed this process in a recent interview.
“[W]e had a unique situation because we have these tribal relationships going back to the early nineties. The tribes had taken a pretty strong point of view from pretty much the time PASPA was overturned that if there was going to be sports betting in Connecticut, they should have exclusively. They considered it a casino game, something that was exclusive to them. So the state didn’t feel that way. And so there was an impasse that existed for a while…”
Eventually, an agreement was reached between the tribes and the state of Connecticut that allowed for the tribes’ access to online casino options. In exchange, Connecticut is allowed to issue a small number of mobile sports betting licenses to companies within the state. So far, the agreement seems to have worked out well for both sides.
“It was clear that was going to be the big win for [the Tribes]. Everyone knows that is a bigger market per capita than sports betting is. It’s a higher-margin business. And it is something that was even more important for them in the wake of COVID and the impact that had on their finances, on their onsite business.”
The new agreement between Connecticut and the local tribes is not the only progress made so far in Simmelkjaer’s term as chairman. Early reports regarding user data show that many bettors are along the state’s New York and Massachusetts borders. These initial results suggest that Connecticut is pulling in revenue from other states whose residents are commuting to Connecticut to use Connecticut betting apps.
Simmelkjaer has also discussed his plans for continuing to grow Connecticut’s mobile betting industry. The lottery chairman has stated that both the Connecticut Lottery Board and the local tribal casinos have plans to invest in developing the mobile betting market.
As part of the continued development of the market, Simmelkjaer has said that the Lottery Board plans to establish more physical retail locations. According to Simmelkjaer, the lottery board believes that improving lottery ticket sales and establishing a new online lottery ticket platform can also be helpful to the sports betting industry in the state as they have similar audiences.
For more updates about online sports betting in Connecticut, be sure to keep an eye on our news section.