Connecticut is a state that was proactive in legalizing sports betting even before the federal government overturned a law prohibiting it, but even though that is the case sports betting is not legal in the state as of June 2019. In 2017 a bill was passed that established the regulatory structure for sports betting before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act making sports betting legal, but on a state by state basis. Even after the decision Connecticut has not made sports betting legal, as there have been issues with the tribal casinos in the state. There were four sports betting bills that appeared in the state legislature in 2019, but none came to pass and there are still hurdles in making sports betting legal in Connecticut. Besides the tribes in the state that run the casinos there has also been the issue of the integrity fee that would give the professional sports league a cut of the sports betting revenue in order for them to use the funds to police their respective sports to make sure there was no cheating go on.
Connecticut Sports Betting Status
While Connecticut was proactive passing a bill before the 2018 Supreme Court ruling sports betting is still not legal in the state. The Native American gaming tribes of Mashantucket and Pequot, who run the two casinos in the state, which are huge, in Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have been opposed to sports betting being legal and that has been the main issue. While the proposed law in Connecticut would allow for sportsbooks to be at the two casinos the tribes are still against the bill allowing for sports betting. Like other tribes around the United States that are opposed to sports betting they believe that the mobile wagers, which will make up most of the sports bets, would take away business from their land-based casinos. Connecticut has to be wary of upsetting the tribes considering they get a 25% stake in their slots revenue, which is around $250 million annually.
On top of the tribes being against mobile wagering they also do not want sports betting to be legal at the 17 pari-mutuel wagering venues in the state, which is operated by Connecticut Lottery and Sportech, as that would further take away business from their the two massive casinos in the state that the tribes operate. There has been talks between the state government and the tribes on the division of money that would come from sports betting, as a Connecticut bill early in 2019 estimated the annular revenue from sports betting to bring in $30 million per year with a 10% tax on all sports bets.
In March of 2019 House Public Safety and Security Committee chairman Rep. Joe Verrengia proposed a bill that has still not been passed in terms of the integrity fee. This fee would be paid to the professional sports leagues for them to police their sport for gambling. This is the case even though Connecticut does not have any pro sports teams, but in the bill the leagues would have more exhibition games in the state as well as help fund youth sports leagues. The passing of this bill would further the overall passing of a bill that would legalize sports betting in Connecticut. Verrengia stated that, “The positive thing is there really is a lot of support for sports betting. It’s just a matter of how we’re going to get there.” That may be the case, but sports betting is still not legal in the state. The state is the entity that seems to want it the most with the tribes operating the casinos against it. The key elements in Verrengia’s bill are:
· Allowing the tribal casinos in the state to offer legal sports betting at their casinos as well as offering off-track wagering and the Connecticut state lottery.
· Allow for a mobile and online gaming platform all around Connecticut with registration for the mobile application that would have to take place in person.
· Allowing for legal sports betting on professional and college events.
Where to Bet on Sports in Connecticut
If sports betting is legal in Connecticut there will be many places to bet on sports. The most bets would be taken by a mobile application, as that has been the case for other states that have already legalized sports betting. For example, New Jersey took in 80% of sports bets through mobile devices in the first year that sports betting was legal. There are also the two casinos that would have land-based sportsbooks where sports betting could take place. On top of that there is a proposed MGM Casino that would also have a sportsbook. There are also 17 pari-mutuel wagering venues in the state where sports betting would take place as well as the Connecticut state lottery would also be authorized to offer sports betting.