The Connecticut lawmakers approved emergency betting regulations on Tuesday, taking a critical step that will allow sports betting for the first time in the state. With the NFL regular season starting Sept. 9, the Regulation Review Committee passed emergency regulations – crafted by the Department of Consumer Protection – with a 9-4 vote majority.
The approval of the 82-page draft will see the largest expansion of gambling in Connecticut history, bringing legalized sports betting, online gambling, as well as other forms of betting in the state.
However, the State of Connecticut still awaits a federal nod – which is expected by Sept. 10 – before it can launch digital sports betting to reap the most of this NFL.
What Happened on Tuesday?
While the committee approved the emergency sports betting regulations, four Republicans opposed the move that aims to bring sport betting live by Sept. 9 – the opening day of the NFL season, which traditionally generates a huge volume of betting.
Despite objections from four Republicans, the emergency rules steered through on a bipartisan basis as two Republicans – including co-chairwoman Nicole Klarides-Ditria – voted in favor.
The emergency rules will be valid for 180 days, with a vote on final regulations is likely early 2022. Some committee members suggested the possibility of holding a public hearing on the new rules.
Is Scheduled Launch Happening?
The Nutmeg State now awaits the U.S. Department of the Interior’s approval of the renewed gaming agreement signed between the state and its federal recognized tribal nations – the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans.
Other critical steps include publishing the expected DOI’s approval in the Federal Register and approving sports betting licenses for operators.
Connecticut residents can place legal bets if all these steps are taken ahead of Sept. 9. But it seems not to be the case as the federal approval is expected not before Sept. 10, and it may take days if not weeks before Connecticut sportsbooks will be able to launch and take bets amidst the regular football season.
Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket Pequots’ tribal chairman, said the tribe is working on launching mobile gaming and sports betting as soon as it is legally allowed to do so. He said the tribe expects action from the federal authority within the next two weeks on the compact amendments submitted in July.
“…It is our understanding that once that approval comes, the state Department of Consumer Protection will issue master betting licenses,” Butler said.
Lottery Chairman Says Launch Will Meet “Early Part” of the NFL
However, Connecticut Lottery Chairman Rob Simmelkjaer believes the industry may go live during the “early part” of the football betting season.
Connecticut will allow online and retail sports betting to its residents through the two tribes and the state lottery. Each entity has its digital sportsbook partner.
DraftKings partnered with the Mashantucket Pequot Indians, while FanDuel has recently replaced Kambi as a sports betting partner for the Mohegan Indians.
Rush Street Interactive became the luckiest among the five potential bidders – including BetMGM – to secure the third and final coveted mobile sports betting partnership with the Connecticut Lottery in mid-August.
How Have We Reached Here?
The emergency sports betting regulations are the fruit of months-long work of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection that eventually submitted the proposed rules to the General Assembly’s Regulations Review Committee with a view to meet the scheduled launch date.
It comes roughly three months after Gov. Ned Lamont signed House Bill HB 6451 in late May, formalizing sports betting agreements made with the state’s two tribes in March. The Connecticut Lottery Corporation was part of the landmark sports betting deal.
Under the expanded gambling deal, Mashantucket Pequots – owner and operator of the Foxwoods Resort Casinos – and Mohegan – the owner of Mohegan Sun Resorts – are also allowed to offer fantasy sports contests and iGaming.
The lawmakers were limited in how much they could alter the emergency rules and express concerns over the proposed rules – mainly regarding alternative forms of payment. A state senator, who voted against the emergency regulation, said he was worried about individuals with joint accounts when one person gambles away the money without the other’s permission.