Connecticut just launched its legal sports betting market, with Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont marking the occasion through a wager placed on the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA. However, Lamont probably didn’t realize that he was about to start a new controversy with that innocent and small piece of paper that represented his bet. The Mohegan Sun, the first casino resort in the state to launch sports betting, is now trying to figure out what to do next after it felt compelled to halt wagers on WNBA teams. Lamont’s bet survived, though, and was worth a total of about $95 after the Sun beat the Chicago Sky.
Connecticut Has Sports Betting Issues Out the Gate
Usually, launching a legal sports betting market is routine and uneventful, especially now that almost 30 states in the US have joined the crowd. However, not long after Lamont placed his wager on the Sun to beat the Sky, something happened. Someone, somewhere, realized that the WNBA team’s home court, Mohegan Sun Arena, is located at the Mohegan Sun resort. To make matters worse, the Mohegan tribe also owns the team.
This connection has raised red flags in the gaming industry, as well as in Connecticut’s legislative chambers. There are concerns that the resort’s sportsbook being able to accept wagers on a team it owns represents a direct conflict of interest. As a result, Mohegan Sun has benched WNBA betting, for now, until the situation can be resolved.
Legislative Changes Likely to Come
It’s a little surprising that no one caught this before Connecticut’s legal market went live. Other states have been thorough with their sports betting rules, and this should have stood out when lawmakers in the state were putting together their plans of action. The laws that eventually made it on the books prevent Mohegan Sun employees from wagering and also prohibit wagers on games involving the University of Connecticut, Yale and other state universities.
For now, while the WNBA suspension is in place, Mohegan Sun will update its standard operating procedures “until this is finalized,” according to the property’s president and GM, Jeff Hamilton. The outcome could mean new laws could be introduced during the upcoming legislative session. The current legal framework was only designed to be a placeholder until the permanent rules were established, and this will certainly be one issue that will be addressed.
Connecticut Representative Maria Horn isn’t surprised that an oversight happened when the emergency rules were being implemented, but knows that a fix is coming. The co-chair of the legislative committee on gambling in the state said last week, “We had been more concerned that nobody with a substantial interest in that team could bet on the team. This is a major expansion (of gambling) and I would be very surprised if we got everything right in the first bite. I expect that we will go back and take a look at whether a tweak needs to be made.”