Hartford’s XL Center is seriously considered to become one of two major sports betting venues of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, looking to offer state residents sports wagering as per the new legislation.
Sports Betting Will Help Develop the Location
Connecticut legislature approved the lottery to operate 15 statewide betting locations and the downtown Hartford XL Center looks like the perfect spot to become a major sports betting venue, offering the potential to combine gambling with dining, bars and other entertainment options like esports and video-based gaming.
According to the chairman of the lottery’s board Rob Simmelkjaer, the idea to place one of the two major sports betting venues in Connecticut at the XL Center came from Gov. Ned Lamont, who is actively exploring ways to “do something big there and want to find a way to have sports betting to help the development of that location”.
The XL Center saw it $250 million budget slashed to $100 million by the Capital Region Development Authority, which placed the focus on premium seating and more amenities in the lower half as a way to boost the profitability of the arena among strong public voices the venue should be razed and redeveloped.
Michael Freimuth, executive director at the authority, believes adding a sports betting venue at the center is a viable option, including the addition of lower-level seats, the exhibition hall and the conversion of back of house areas into space for fans.
Renovation Will Bring Benefits to the Hartford Region
Financing of the sports betting venue at the XL Center could come from private investors and the company the lottery will choose to run the operations. Having drawn proposals from 15 candidates, the lottery selected 4 of them to submit detailed plans.
The state approved $65 million in capital improvement funds, in addition to the already received $40 million borrowings by the authority, but the additional borrowing is currently held by the State Bond Commission chaired by Gov. Ned Lamont.
According to Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, a large sports betting venue at a renovated XL Center will bring benefits not only to the city but to the region as it will attract more visitors to the area, while some lawmakers believe it will help pay for some of the costs of renovation.
Besides considering the two major sports betting venues, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation is also looking at smaller locations in the Hartford area like Winners on Brainard Road in Hartford, Shea’s Pizzeria and Sports Bar in Manchester, Bobby V’s near Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks and others.
Currently operated by off-track betting licensee Sportech, these locations are potential candidates for the lottery as Sportech could be sublicensed to accommodate sports betting.