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The state of Connecticut crossed a major hurdle that will soon allow mobile wagering within the state but comes with a few roadblocks before anyone officially can make a bet online.
Gov. Ned Lamont and the Mohegan Tribe agreed on Tuesday to establish online gambling and sports betting in Connecticut that allows for the first-time nontribal gambling operators to compete for bettors. The deal with the Mohegan Tribe, owner of the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville also includes new gaming options for the Connecticut Lottery Corp.
Upon the announcement, the agreement immediately came under fire from competitors, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and Connecticut’s state’s pari-mutuel operator.
The Mashantucket Pequot Nation, which operates the nationally known Foxwoods Resort Casino, made it known they are not a party to the agreement. Their chairman said the announcement failed to mention the tribe was “extremely disrespectful in terms of process and substance.”
Also dissatisfied was Sportech, Connecticut’s pari-mutuel operator, who would be sublicensed by the Connecticut Lottery Corp. Under the agreement, they would operate several retail sports betting sites. They responded, “they will sue because the agreement principally excludes it from expanded gaming”.
Gov. Lamont commented in a news release about the pact:
This agreement represents months of hard work and dedication to getting a deal that’s best for the residents of Connecticut and moves our state forward when it comes to the future of gaming. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a devoted partner in these efforts like the Mohegan Tribe, as they have been open to negotiation, honest discussion, and a positive path forward that is beneficial for both their tribe and the State of Connecticut.
Connecticut will institute a 20% tax rate on new online gaming or “iGaming” offerings and a 13.75% tax on sports wagering.
The agreement is for 10 years with a five-year extension option. No specific timeline to launch online gaming operations was announced on Tuesday.
It is obvious and apparent no operations will begin without a settlement with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. Last December, DraftKings Sportsbook entered into a separate partnership agreement with the tribe to secure their online sports betting process.
Mashantucket Chairman Rodney Butler said during the public hearing heard virtually:
It literally comes down to a question of fairness and equity. In the context of the deal, the point is insignificant. It’s a revenue question. It’s a revenue question, which is less than a rounding error for the state, but to my nation it means sustainability. Just permitting Lottery to participate in full sports betting, absent tax, or revenue share, is a major allowance. I can assure you we’re in solidarity with our Mohegan cousins on this. We are so close. We are down to one final point and when we get there this is going to be a great deal for everyone.
Like other US regions, a major incentive for Connecticut involves a geographical push. New England states New Hampshire, and Rhode Island has made sports wagering legal with Massachusetts achieving steady progress. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also changed his position, allowing his state going forward to pursue online sports wagering later this year.
The number one goal is financial Less than a month ago, Lamont expressed optimism about releasing his two-year budget indicating he expects $50 million in revenue from online sports wagering, iGaming, and iLottery.
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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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