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With many important hurdles successfully crossed over, Gov. Lamont is aiming to have people in Connecticut enjoy legalized sports wagering by this season’s opening NFL kickoff. Officials in Connecticut were optimistic having secured the cooperation of the state’s two large Native American tribes to begin operation quicker than anticipated, hopefully in the Fall.
That significant mark was met last week when a deal was arranged to secure the cooperation from leaders of both the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nations. It will now be left to Governor Lamont’s office to clear some additional details before a finalized version of the sports wagering bill will be brought forth to the House of Representatives for a vote. That should occur in approximately two weeks.
It is expected that both the CT House and Senate will pass legislation. That will allow Gov. Lamont to go forward with his agreement with the two tribes, allowing for the US Department of Interior to approve the deal.
The change and gambling law in the state also requires committee approval of sports betting, online wagers, and a casino to be in Bridgeport.
The committee originally approved legislation to authorize sports wagering and online operation for casino gambling, lottery, and keno to be conducted on tablets, laptop computers, and phones. Also, for a tribal resort casino in Bridgeport.
There are specific rules to be enforced including a mandatory 21 age limit, plus a wagering ban on athletes and coaches who are involved and actively participate.
Not all groups are happy with Gov. Lamont’s decision and the agreement going forth with the state’s two Native American tribes. Officials in the Connecticut town of East Windsor believe it halts the development of a casino planned for their town.
East Windsor was hoping the property that housed the former Showcase Cinemas, located in a heavy trafficked and populated area would be utilized for new casino development, but it has not materialized as yet. There is now additional concern that prospects may not happen for well over a decade.
East Windsor First Selectman Jason Bowsza made this comment regarding the updated news for Connecticut’s plans:
I think that what we have now is a 30-acre parcel of commercially marketable property between highway exits. I think that there needs to be something meaningful to happen to that.
Bowsza feels developing the property will significantly contribute to the state’s tax base. However, now that the arrangement between Gov. Lamont and the two native tribes has been agreed upon, it will put a halt to their Tribal Winds Casino project.
Rep. Carol Hall(R) – Enfield agreed with Bowsza and said she opposed Lamont’s deal with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes because the East Windsor casino was omitted in their agreement. She added:
I would indeed, I think, support that bill if it didn’t have that component in it. I agree with probably everything else in this bill except for that piece that eliminates the casino.
With the full cooperation of both tribes and major sportsbook operators including DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, BetMGM, and others standing by, early September and the start of both the NFL and NCAA college football season seems possible for Connecticut.
Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation said at a news conference last week “the goal is to be placing bets on sports by this NFL season”. Butler forecasted outside the Norwich, CT City Hall that when the legislation clears the General Assembly, it will likely take only 60 to 90 days to receive federal approval before proceeding.
From there to launch from the back end at the state’s major onsite sportsbook properties Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, Butler felt confidently ready. He predicted that Connecticut could obtain from $70 to $80 million from their sports betting and online wagering revenues. That in addition to the state’s existing 25% slot machine revenue share.
The timing toward moving quickly also affects thousands of casino workers who have been laid-off due to COVID-19. Both tribal leaders hope swift passage will bring jobs back to both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun as both facilities closed for extended weeks during the pandemic.
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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