According to Governor Ned Lamont, the ongoing talks between the state of Connecticut and the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes aren’t likely to result in an agreement on sports betting during the current legislative session, which ends next month. This means that Connecticut probably won’t be seeing the passage of any major sports betting bill this year.
“We hope to get it done this session but I’m not sure we can. We’ve got a little ways to go,” said Lamont. “I don’t think we’re going to see it happen in this session.”
The tribes believe that the current gaming agreements with the state give them the exclusive right to offer sports betting at their casinos (Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun). The argument most tribes have is that sports betting is just like any other casino game. They feel that the state itself needs to talk to the tribe (negotiate). Not doing so could mean some legal complications arise between the tribes and state.
Chairman of the Mashantucket, Rodney Butler, says that the ongoing negotiations on sports betting involve a number of issues which includes online wagering as well as other gaming-related matters. Butler called the current situation “very complicated”.
Butler says that the tribes would possibly agree to a short-term solution in which the legislature would have a vote this current session to allow for the tribes to have exclusivity towards sports betting and then revisit the issue next year.
Lamont and his administration have been in talks for months with the tribal owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun. If all of the associated issues can be address, Lamont as stated he would be open to legalizing betting in the state.
“From my point of view, I want a global solution to this thing that’s been stuck in legal limbo for an awful long time,” Lamont said. “And I’d love to make a deal with Rodney. I’d love to make a deal with Mohegan and MGM in a way that I honor my compact with Rodney and the tribes — that includes internet, it includes sports. But I’m not going to do it if we don’t have a global solution.”
Representative Joe Verrengia (D-Hartford), the co-chair of the committee that oversees gambling issues, said he supported the governor’s plan.
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“If it takes more time to get a deal done, I think that’s OK,” he said. “I think it’s more important for the governor to stand strong in his negotiations and get the best deal possible for the state of Connecticut.”
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Suns tribes are old rivals and competitors in the casino industry of eastern Connecticut but have since allied in the fight for exclusivity in sports betting.
Butler expressed his hope of an eventual resolution allowing the tribes and the state to go forward with sports betting. Lamont went on to confirm that he is all about making a deal with the Mohegan tribe, but thinks there may be too many unaddressed issues to get anything done by session end.
Over the last 25 years, the tribes in Connecticut have been paying 25% of their gross revenue from slots. This has generated nearly $8 billion for Connecticut in this time period. The state has made a mint off of their current agreements with the tribes, perhaps allowing them the exclusivity of sports betting wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
A similar tax rate of 25 percent on gross sports betting revenue would be sure to result in millions for the state. With each passing day, the state is losing out to neighboring New Jersey and Rhode Island, each has legal sports betting which includes mobile. If a deal doesn’t get done this session, Connecticut may end up losing more business to other neighboring states, such as New York.