Connecticut Legislature Considers Online iGaming And Sports Betting Bills

One of the more baffling state developments since the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018 has been the action – or, rather, the lack of action – taken by the state of Connecticut to expand their laws to accommodate sports wagering.

Connecticut, home to two of the largest and most luxurious resort casino destinations in the world, should have been one of the first states to legalize domestic sports betting.

However, some 20+ states have beaten them to the punch.

The problem, of course, is one of tribal exclusivity.

In Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe own and operate the aforementioned venues, which are the Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun, respectively.

The Foxwoods is the fifth largest casino in the world, with a 344,000-square-foot gaming floor and over 2200 hotel rooms and suites.

Not to be outdone, the Mohegan Sun is the third largest casino in the world, replete with 364,000 square feet of gaming space, 1500+ hotel rooms, a 12,000-seat sports arena, and the largest ballroom in the northeastern USA.

Both of these casinos are bigger venues than anything you’ll find in Las Vegas, and they’ve been CT’s only major tourism draws for decades.

Nevertheless, sports betting has not been hotly pursued in the state. Nor, for that matter, has online gambling, or iGaming.

However, that could all finally change, as CT seems primed to go all in on both Internet-based markets.

There are currently four bills being considered in the Connecticut legislature:

  • SB 146 – Authorizes online sports betting, iGaming, online lottery, and online keno
  • SB 570 – Authorizes a new tribal resort casino in Bridgeport
  • HB 6451 – Amends Class III tribal compacts to allow expanded gambling
  • HB 6512 – Sports betting consumer protection bill

While online sports betting is a double-edged sword for many tribal venues (and since it brings with it debates about gambling classifications and tribal exclusivity clauses), many states with tribal gaming but no commercial gaming are struggling to come to terms with how to implement the new market to satisfy all parties.

In CT, the argument is that sports betting is covered under the federal designation of Class III gaming, over which the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan peoples have sole charge.

The state wants to commercialize sports betting and classify it as a different form of gambling, but the tribes simply won’t consider the argument.

This is the case in several states (i.e. Florida), and it often explains why many states that should offer domestic sports betting still don’t.

Of course, that’s moot if you live in such a state, because you can safely and legally bet online at any of several reputable international gambling sites.

But sports betting is comparative kid stuff.

The far more interesting aspect of the new bills being considered in the CT statehouse is the fact that online casino gambling is on the docket.

This, even for us, is a real surprise.

Of course, given the impact of COVID-19 on brick-and-mortar gambling and revenues thereof throughout 2020, it’s a bit less of a shocker than it otherwise might have been.

Historically, many retail casino operators – especially tribal retail casino operators with state gambling exclusivity agreements – have not embraced iGaming, as it’s thought to take away revenues and resources from local economies.

For example, while a tribal casino might make a tremendous amount of money from online gambling, the tribal nation in charge of that casino won’t be able to generate many new jobs for its people with that approach.

Tourism drives such economies more than anything else, and any service that might cannibalize ancillary markets (such as restaurants, bars, shops, etc.) on tribal land is typically a nonstarter.

That’s why the CT tribes actually embracing these initiatives is so intriguing.

Still, it probably won’t matter much to you.

Chances are, you don’t live in CT, and to gamble online in the state – whether you want to bet sports or play online casino games – you actually have to be inside Connecticut borders.

On the other hand, if the state does legalize iGaming, CT will be the seventh state to do so (five states have active online casinos already), and that will certainly add more momentum to the industrial push to get even more states onboard with truly expanded gambling.

But even then, it’ll be hard – if not functionally impossible – for domestic US venues to match the sheer scope and variety of the online gambling markets available to players using international betting sites.

These services offer hundreds of RNG casino games, full sports betting menus with league odds from all over the world, online poker tables and tournaments, and even horse racing betting.

And best of all, you only have to be 18 – not 21 – to sign up and play right now.

Domestic venues have a long way to go.

But you don’t!

Source: The CT Mirror