The current wave of legalization efforts throughout the states is gathering strength, with Connecticut being the latest to reveal initiatives towards establishing a legal framework for sports betting, lottery and casino, a subject that has a history of controversy and division of interests within the state.
Money for the Municipalities
Unlike in the previous unsuccessful attempts to legalize online sports betting in the state, this time around the legislation measure proposes to distribute $88 million to the municipalities, giving them the opportunity to cut on their current mill rates, the property tax that Connecticut people pay that has one of the highest rates in the state.
New Entertainment for the People
The proposal also includes the authorization of online sports betting, casino gambling, and iKeno, the introduction of a new casino in Bridgeport, with the same capacity as the one jointly operated by the two Indian tribes of Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans planned for East Windsor , and the setting of three entertainment zones, one in Hartford and New Haven, with the location of the third still to be determined.
Recognition for the Tribes
Most importantly, the proposal is re-affirming the partnership between the state and the tribes that has been lasting for almost 30 years and has brought in $9 billion from the casinos they have been operating since 1990, the Mohegan Sun and the Foxwoods Resort, and have turned them into one of the biggest employers in the state.
Focus on the Governor
While there is no division in opinions regarding the future role of the online gambling industry, as in terms of the overall competitiveness of the state, so for the opportunity for extra revenues for the cities and towns, there is one legal issue that seems to be the main obstacle in the process ahead, the state compacts with both tribes, as it requires for the State Governor, Ned Lamont, to re-negotiate terms.
Ready to Cash in on the Compacts
The two Indian tribes are convinced that the current terms in their state compacts give them the exclusive right to offer gambling, with sports betting being included under the same term, but they leave the door open for negotiations, obviously positioning themselves to sell that part of the exclusivity clause back to the state, mounting the pressure on the state Governor in the negotiation process.
Governor Remains Non-Committal
Placed in a tricky situation and trying to juggle between the state General Assembly pushing for the measure to pass, on one side, and the tribes asking for concessions, on the other, Gov. Lamont is taking a neutral stance, with his spokesman recently saying that the administration is currently looking into the proposal and is planning to discuss it during the forthcoming legislative session on February 5.