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It seems almost weekly we are seeing headlines of new US states debuting their launch into the promising opportunity of legalized sports wagering and online gaming.
After a long wait, Michigan began online sports betting with Virginia arriving in time for the NFL playoffs and the upcoming Super Bowl. Connecticut is now eager to join them and seems to be making concrete plans to be among the next states offering their residents an opportunity to wager in 2021.
Connecticut’s number one motivation to legalize sports wagering has become identical to what has driven all other states to take immediate action. Huge financial losses from Covid-19.
Governor Ned Lamont is becoming the driving force for acting and pushing hard for new outlets of revenue in 2021. Though sports wagering legislation, which would include online wagering is a minor part of the overall solution aiding the state’s financial deficit, he believes it could help ease some financial hardship. Lamont has also officially announced he would like to propose making marijuana legal for the state in 2021.
During his recent state-of-the-state address Lamont said:
Sports betting, internet gaming and legalized marijuana are happening all around us. Let’s not surrender these opportunities to out-of-state markets or even worse, underground markets.
In past Connecticut has diligently tried to pass legislation for sports wagering but has failed. Most notably in 2019 a bill focused upon the state’s nationally known two casino’s Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. A compromise was the state was unable to be reached involving the Native American tribes that own both casinos.
The Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequot tribes own and operate Mohegan Sun in Uncasville and Foxwoods in Ledyard. The disconnect comes with any monopoly they may have within the state may invite a lawsuit from MGM Resorts, which operates MGM Springfield, nearby in Massachusetts. They are also planning to build a casino in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city. A new agreement must be worked out as their BetMGM brand would likely be involved as a proposed licensed operator.
The revised bill, SB 146 would allow the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe to offer both online and retail sports betting. The tribal nations have had a decades-old agreement with Connecticut giving them exclusive gambling rights. This bill recognizes sports betting as part of their exclusive rights.
Most states now have endorsed a traditional licensing system allowing for casino operators to join sportsbook operators in a partnership agreement. A certain number of these licenses are to be allocated with a minimum and maximum within each state’s guidelines.
Reviewing the progress forward Connecticut has recently made toward legalization, DraftKings Sportsbook partnered with Foxwoods in December. To get prepared Mohegan Sun selected Kambi as its sports wagering provider in March 2020.
The Connecticut General Assembly convened for its 2021 legislative session with adjournment scheduled for June. The topic of legalizing sports wagering will remain in Governor Lamont’s attention and brought to the floor.
A bill would need to pass through the House and Senate for Lamont to be able to sign it into law. This action is expected to occur, making the legislative process on the issue more of a formality.
Retail sports betting (onsite) would be available first in 2021 per inside sources with mobile betting to also include online sports betting a much more complex issue to be decided upon later.
Economics is the main component of the alliance this time. Due to the ravaging effects of COVID-19, Connecticut lost about 12,000 jobs related directly to the two large casinos or within their vendors. People are not confidently willing to return to casinos yet.
Most all believe a compromise will be reached sometime in 2021, allowing Connecticut to join the list of US states prospering from welcoming legalized sports wagering and online gambling.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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