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Connecticut’s public safety committee passed two bills that would clear the path for sports betting within the state boundaries.
With the legislative session ending in June, lawmakers are pressed for time as the House and Senate openly begin to debate both bills.
The first bill would open sports betting in the state with two tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan tribes, leading the way.
Both tribes run the companies that control the popular Foxwoods casino and the Mohegan Sun chain of gambling locations.
The second bill would open up sports betting to numerous operators inside the state including off-track and lottery locations.
The main problem as it stands is that the tribes believe they have the exclusive rights to sports betting in the state.
Legislators have hinted at a plan that would allow multiple operators but devote a portion of their revenue back to the tribes to make this compromise possible.
Once the bill passes, early estimates peg the total revenue for Connecticut at close to $20 million per year.
It appears that the tax rate of the bills would be roughly 10 percent of all revenue.
This is a stark contrast to neighboring state Rhode Island where legislators command 51% of all money brought in by sports betting.
Some legislators would like money to go to programs that combat compulsive gambling.
“I would rather we as a state did (sports betting) more cautiously, more wisely,” said Sen. Tony Hwang said.
State Sen. Hwang is leading the charge for wariness about expanding the measure to mobile betting.
By moving quickly to online platforms, Hwang feels the state will see an inevitable rise in gambling addictions.
The proposals also state that wagering would be limited to residents 21 years and older plus no betting on Connecticut’s college sports teams.
For residents of Connecticut who love sports gambling, the nearby state of Rhode Island has filled the need.
Currently, Rhode Island has two casinos in the state that offer sports betting.
The most popular, the Twin River Casino in Lincoln is roughly 90 minutes from Hartford.
One of the reasons that Connecticut is rushing to get a sports betting bill through is that hundreds of thousands in gambling money is landing across state lines.
Coupled with medical marijuana in Massachusetts, residents of Connecticut are ready for the legislature to get their act together on legalization.
Mark Titan, a Connecticut native, drives the 90 minutes to the Twin River Casino to place sports bets and is fed up with the political fumbling in his home state.
“We’re like a deer in headlights – we’re staring at the other states around us and yet, we’re afraid to do it because we’re a conservative state,” Titan told Connecticut Public Radio.
Other legislators in the state have blamed Governor Ned Lamont for the lack of leadership in the sports betting matter.
“I think it’s imperative that the governor comes out and gives the legislature some direction where he would like to go,” said Joe Verrengia, chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Verrengia is also frustrated with the tribes in the state claiming exclusivity on sports betting.
“I just can’t believe the claim of exclusivity on something that wasn’t even legal at the time,” he told CPR.
Legislators in Connecticut are to decide soon if the bill has a chance to pass so betting can be legal in the state within the next several months.
If you’re new to sports betting, read our easy-to-understand introduction here.
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