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Gov. Lamont’s administration announced on Thursday that they have reached an agreement with the two federally recognized Native American tribes in the state on a gambling expansion plan that will likely lead to sports wagering and online gambling.
The governor and leaders of both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes said the deal would modernize gambling in Connecticut, generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for the state, and improve financial conditions for the tribe’s signature Eastern Connecticut casinos, Foxwoods, and Mohegan Sun.
In taking this critical step, this does not signify anything is official as yet. There are still formalities and channels these compacts must pass before they become Connecticut state law.
The initial phase is the Connecticut General Assembly approving the agreement followed by the US Department of Interior providing the go-ahead before bringing online gambling and sports gambling into the state.
But in the most ambitious forecast, by the end of the year, Connecticut could be the largest New England state with legal sports betting, as well as the first with online casino games.
The agreement will allow the Connecticut Lottery, in cooperation with both tribal entities to run sports betting, according to a report from local media. The Mohegan Tribe agreed to the terms of a first draft agreement a few weeks ago before continued negotiations were able to have the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe accepting terms.
Under the agreement, the CT government will tax all online casino gaming, which will include online poker, at 18% for the first five years before increasing to 20% for the following five years.
All sports betting revenue will be taxed at 13.75%, while the Connecticut Lottery will have the right to operate 15 retail onsite locations and one online sportsbook. Two of the retail locations will be located in Hartford and Bridgeport.
Both tribes also agreed to pause the construction of a proposed casino in East Windsor, CT for the next ten years. The tribes own the two largest casinos in the state, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, and were planning to partner for the third casino property.
Gov. Lamont was quite satisfied uniting cooperation from the states two Native American tribes and said:
Connecticut is on the cusp of providing a modern, technologically advanced gaming experience for our residents, which will be competitive with our neighboring states. We will work to see it ratified and look forward to doing so through a collaborative effort, to include working with elected leaders in the General Assembly.
Lamont also felt the deal was an agreement that allows the tribes to grow and prosper. He also commented:
It’s something that all of our neighbors are doing, our neighboring states, and Connecticut is going to play. I think it’s a way to bring our cities and towns back to life and represents some real revenue for the taxpayers.
Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler told a local reporter that he expects the agreement to move through the legislature rapidly and receive approval from regulators in the following months. Butler is forecasting that Connecticut will have online gambling and sports betting potentially by the end of summer.
James Gessner Jr., chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said the agreement will generate tax revenue from sports and online gaming “that are competitive with other states, to the benefit of both state and local municipal budgets as well as our tribe’s members.”
The agreement and cooperation bond years of negotiations between the state and two tribal casinos to amend their compacts with Connecticut. Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino have had exclusive gambling rights in Connecticut for almost thirty years.
The announcement will have a spillover effect on other New England states currently involved in sports wagering legislation talks including Massachusetts and Maine. Most significant will be on New York, where pressure is on Governor Cuomo to move forward his timeline to approve online sports wagering for the state.
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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