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.

Connecticut Governor Throws Support for State Sports Betting Bill

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Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that he is working on bringing sports betting and iGaming to Connecticut. Per Gov. Lamont, he has been talking to the state’s two tribal casino operators about adding sportsbooks and online gaming to their services.

Said Gov. Lamont about residents heading to nearby states to make sports bets:

“Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction.”

Senate Bill 146

SB 146 would authorize the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians to conduct both retail and online Connecticut sports betting on tribal land. The two tribes would also be allowed to run online casino businesses.

Furthermore, the bill proposes that the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to sell lottery game tickets and organize online keno games. The bill also states that the legalization of Connecticut sports betting, online gambling, as well as selling of game tickets and online keno games are subject to “new or amended agreements” with the Native American tribes.

If Senate Bill 146 is accepted, a reasonable set of procedures and data security standards for internet gaming need to be set-up. Likewise, Connecticut sports betting and online gambling will provide revenue to the state in the form of taxes.

Legalization Won’t Happen Overnight

Although the bill’s proposal has been filed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that legalization will happen overnight. The Connecticut General Assembly still has to vote on the bill during the 2021 legislative session, which will conclude on June 9th or four months for legislators to decide whether or not to approval legal Connecticut sports betting.

But COVID-19 has affected badly the revenues of Connecticut, as it has the other states in the U.S. Some lawmakers said last week that legal sports betting can help the state offset revenue losses and that could be enough to convince lawmakers to help pass the bill.

If passed, the bill won’t take effect until 2022, just in time for the fiscal year 2023. According to Democratic lawmakers in the state, if legal Connecticut sports betting goes as planned and the bill is passed, they could see an increase in annual revenues by $47.3M in 2023.