HARTFORD, Connecticut (WFSB) — A bill legalizing sports gaming in the state heads to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk.
The Connecticut State Senate voted Tuesday night to approve the bill by a vote of of 28-6.
Gov. Ned Lamont applauded what he called a bipartisan effort. He said he plans to sign the bill in the coming days.
“I want to congratulate and thank the Connecticut General Assembly for approving historic legislation, negotiated by my office, which modernizes Connecticut’s gaming landscape,” Lamont said. “I also want to thank our tribal partners, the Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, for their constructive and collaborative efforts, both in negotiating the agreement and working through the details of this legislation. This is a significant moment for our state as, for the first time, we will allow sports wagering, online casino gaming, and entry of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation into this space. I look forward to signing this legislation into law, which is in the best interests of the State of Connecticut and its citizens.”
The Lamont administration and the tribes said they will seek approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior to amend the state’s compact with the tribes. The federal agency needs to approve the changes to the compact before online gaming and sports wagering can begin in the state.
Roughly a dozen states already allow sports betting.
Those in favor said Connecticut needs the revenue.
“I think we will see the rewards for revenue. We’ve seen what has happened in other states and quite frankly, Connecticut needs new sources of revenue,” said Sen. Heather Somers.
The bill, labeled House Bill 6451 “An Act Concerning Gaming Agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut,” passed through the state House of Representatives last week.
The vote was 122-21.
Lawmakers said the bill is based on a new, contractual agreement negotiated between Lamont and the tribal nations.
It allows the tribes to conduct in-person and online sports wagering and fantasy sports wagering on their reservations, and to conduct online sports betting for casino games and fantasy sports.
The bill also allows the Connecticut Lottery to conduct in-person and online sports wagering, online Keno, and online lottery games. The CT Lottery can also conduct in-person sports wagering at up to 15 facilities, which may be licensed off-track betting facilities in accordance with the creation of an operating agreement.
In exchange for the right to conduct expanded gambling operations, the bill requires monthly payments from the tribes and the CT Lottery to the state’s General Fund ranging from 13.75 percent to 20 percent of gross revenues from sports wagering, online casino gaming, and fantasy contests, and annual payments of $500,000 from each tribe and $1 million from the CT Lottery toward certain problem gambling programs.
The bill also delays the authorization of an off-reservation casino gaming facility in East Windsor for 10 years, which is why Sen. Saud Anwar voted against it.
“I am upset that one of the most important economic development projects for the capitol region has been delayed,” Anwar said.
Finally, lawmakers said the bill also creates a licensing process for fantasy sports betting sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. Those sites will be allowed to operate in Connecticut like any other form of sports wagering after the state creates regulations and issues licenses to them.
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