A year before the Supreme Court overturned the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) to set the precedent for legalized sports gambling, the Connecticut legislature passed a bill to prepare for such an event.
The bill established the regulatory structure for sports betting and became active once SCOTUS ruled in favor of New Jersey on May 14, 2018, allowing for individual states to legalize sports gambling.
However, the Connecticut legislature adjourned on May 9, 2018, and Gov. Dan Malloy’s call for a special session did not lead to any resolution, as the 2018 legislative session closed without a formal vote.
Dissent from the Native American gaming tribes (Mashantucket and Pequot) that run the massive Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos is the most significant stumbling block preventing the creating of a comprehensive bill on sports gambling. Legislators need tread lightly on the issue because violating the compact with the tribes could cost the state 25 percent of slot machine revenue, which translates to more than $250 annually.
Early in 2019, several bills were introduced to the General Assembly proposing the legalization of sports gambling.
The bill proposed by Public Safety Committee Chairman Joe Verrengia would give the tribes the right to offer sports gambling in their casinos. The Connecticut Lottery and Sportech, which operates 16 pari-mutuel wagering venues in the state, would also be granted the right to offer live sports betting under the bill.
The bill would also allow for a statewide mobile and online gaming platform that requires in-person registration. It would create an estimated $30 million in tax revenue from a 10 percent tax on gross revenue.
What still needs to happen?
While the bill seems friendly and the tribes are reportedly working with state officials on the subject, Connecticut appears to be a long way from officially legalizing the industry.
During a February legislative session that lasted nearly 11 hours, sports betting was not at the top of the item list. The legislature instead focused on the question of creating a third casino in East Windsor. Furthermore, concerns that the individual interests of the tribes, state lottery, and other investors are divergent seemed to prevent legislators from rushing into the approval of a bill.
In a March session, legislators passed two bills that would allow sports betting to be conducted by the entities listed above.
Yet the details are subject to change and the prevalent belief is that the bill has again been put on the back burner. However, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz says that the matter could be sent to a special session.