New Connecticut Sports Betting Bill Seeks Tribal Duopoly

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After years of haggling both in and out of the legislative floor, a bill may see Connecticut sports betting launch in 2021. The proposed bill will effectively create a duopoly, commanded by the two tribes, which both the stakeholders had been striving for. 

On January 13, a one-paragraph bill SB 146 was filed, calling for statewide online sports betting iGaming operated by Connecticut tribes. The proposed bill, backed by the Connecticut Governor and seventeen lawmakers, would authorize mobile and retail sports betting at the two tribal casinos Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. It also calls for New Connecticut Lottery to sell draw game tickets and to hold keno games online. Besides, receiving the authorization to offer digital and retail sports betting, the tribal casinos will also be able to offer online casino games.

Currently, the bill is in the committee stage.         

The Bill Has The Governor’s Support

Last week, Gov. Ned Lamont suggested 2021 would be the year that would see regulated sports betting in Connecticut following an agreement between lawmakers and tribal leaders. He pointed out that many other US states were legalizing sports wagering and online gaming, adding that he believes the state should “not surrender these opportunities to out-of-state markets or underground markets.” Instead, by legalizing sports betting Connecticut could claim state revenue to help with the pandemic-led economic crisis.

The tribes had threatened they wouldn’t let Connecticut online sports betting happen unless they were in charge of the new industry. So, it appears the latest development in Connecticut has rewarded the two tribes as they have exclusive gaming rights, including sports betting rights, in the Nutmeg State in exchange for 25% of slot revenue.

Who Else Benefits from Legalized Sports Betting?

Aside from the tribes, DraftKings and Kambi seem to be the other beneficiaries. The Boston-based sports betting operator has a deal to run operations for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the owner of Foxwoods Resort Casino. However, the B2B provider of sports betting services, Kambi, has partnered with Mohegan. DraftKings will be using its new SBTech platform to challenge Mohegan on its previous Kambi platform.

Before Christmas, both tribes and the lawmakers were convinced about getting a sports betting deal done in 2021. SB 146 is the first major step toward that process. With the governor’s backing and the tribes’ openness to the proposal, Connecticut is likely to become the third New England state to regulate sports betting. The industry is already legal in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

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