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Connecticut’s struggle to put sports betting on the books may be coming to a close, as the CT House of Representatives has recently decided to move HB6451 forward. The bill’s text gives DFS companies two months until July 2021 to properly license under the new restrictions. This means that providers like FanDuel and DraftKings will likely lose DFS, an expected revenue source in the state. There’s still time for amendments, but it’s unlikely that DFS will make the cut, as the session adjourns on June 9th.
HB 6451, the sweeping legislation to authorize sports wagering in CT, seems like it will pass in the CT Senate after overwhelming support from the House. It’s Governor Ned Lamont’s own bill, forged after historic discussions between CT legislators and the state’s two main tribes offering to gamble: the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan. Like many agreements amending tribal compacts, this one will have to pass muster with the US Department of the Interior, but with the full support of the tribes, it’s expected to make the cut with the federal government.
The bill authorizes the Connecticut Lottery to offer online sports betting at an 18% tax for the first five years, increasing to 20%. HB 6451 also expands casino, iLottery, and Keno gaming as well as providing tribal authorities with the means to offer sports wagering in-person. There will be a ban on wagering on in-state college teams like UConn, mirroring similar bans in other northeast states.
The trickiest part of HB 6451 is its stipulation that all entities offering DFS must be under the umbrella of a so-called “master wagering license”, and they must do so by July 1st, 2021. Previously, DFS companies were not required by CT law to provide a master wagering license, so, therefore, no operator is currently in possession of a said license.
There isn’t even an application guideline or ruleset established for the practice, so it’s a bit like “building a plane while you’re flying it”: DFS operators like FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbook are essentially tasked with the impossible. If Senate lawmakers both establish license requirements and extend the deadline, DFS operators might have a bit more time to get off the ground, but it appears increasingly unlikely that DFS will be available in CT until 2022 at the earliest.
As mentioned, before the bill can officially become law, it will have to pass a review from the US Department of the Interior. This is due to the fact that HB 6451 will amend tribal compacts that are federally protected by IGRA, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. It’s still sitting in the Senate’s chambers, but if the bill’s support from the House is any indication, it will soon pass before the session adjourns in early June.
Once the Dept. of the Interior reviews and okays the bill, it’s likely to pass into law without much difficulty. If everything happens at record speed, it’s possible that we’ll see sports betting go live in the Constitution State by the time the NFL season rolls around.
Chris Altman is a traveling writer and content specialist covering everything from betting to plane crashes. He has been working in sports betting, specifically legislation for some time now, covering industry developments and the legal landscape of sportsbooks in the U.S. Chris is also a published short story writer and zine editor. Email: [email protected]More info on Chris Altman
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