As a multitude of states continue to legalize sports betting or move toward doing so, Connecticut will not be among them. At least not in 2019, as any legislation to permit sports wagering in The Nutmeg State will have to wait until at least next year.
Gov. Ned Lamont had been attempting to push forward a bill that would legalize sports betting in Connecticut, but the Democratic lawmaker said Wednesday that the state’s 2019 legislative session will end without any bill(s) being passed.
Ongoing negotiations with the two Native American tribes that operate casinos in the state are the reason given; the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which operates the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, and the Mohegan Tribe, which operates the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville.
Both believe existing agreements with the state gives them exclusive rights to sports betting. Neither the Mashantucket Pequot or Mohegan tribes are diametrically opposed to legalized sports betting, but they think they have authority over sports betting.
Both tribes are absolute that legislation that permits commercial gaming expansion in Connecticut cannot be done without their approval. Connecticut lawmakers have contended otherwise, and Lamont and his administration continue to have ongoing discussions with tribal leaders on the subject.
Until such a time that an amendment to the existing contract can be renegotiated or the dispute is settled in court, a legislation that would legalize sports betting in the state will not advance in the immediate future.
“We’re trying to get something done, but we’re not going to get it done in this session,” Lamont told The Connecticut Mirror.
Two bills permitting wagering on sports had been introduced during Connecticut’s 2019 General Assembly session that convened on January 9 and concludes June 5.
One measure would allow betting on sports at casinos and off-track betting parlors. The other bill would authorize sportsbooks to operate at the tribal-operated Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos.
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes pay the State of Connecticut 25 percent of gross revenue they generate from slot machines for exclusivity on casino gaming in the state. For 2019, that total is estimated to reach $250 million.
That deal has come under increased scrutiny following the U.S. Supreme Court lifting a federal ban last May on legalized sports betting beyond Nevada, a decision that caused a proliferation of states to pass bills to allow the practice as way to create additional revenue streams.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, there are now legal operational sportsbooks in eight states (including Nevada where sports betting has long been permitted), with several states expected to have sportsbooks open by the end of the year.
Many Connecticut lawmakers were hoping to follow suit, especially as neighboring states New York and Rhode Island have already passed legislation.
New York is expected to have its first sportsbook operational by the start of the 2019 NFL season; both of Rhode Island’s two sportsbooks became operational last year.