Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the latest state in the US to introduce its own legal sports betting market. The puzzle is almost completely put together, with one key signature still needed. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has to approve newly-crafted tribal gaming compacts between Connecticut and its two tribes, the Mohegan and the Mashantucket Pequots, and that approval could come at any time. With the NFL season looming just around the corner, lawmakers are doing everything they can to be able to flip the switch on sports betting and iGaming as soon as that DOI approval arrives.
Connecticut Approves New Gambling Rules
The NFL regular season gets started on September 9 and, with just a week to go, there isn’t much time for Connecticut to get everything in place for its new sports betting market. In anticipation of approval of the gaming compacts by the DOI, a legislative committee, the Regulations Review Committee in the General Assembly, has approved emergency rules crafted by the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) for the new activity so that, once Connecticut hears from the federal government, it can immediately explore the issuance of licenses.
According to a statement from Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket Pequots’ tribal chairman, “We expect action from the federal Department of Interior within the next two weeks on the compact amendments submitted in late July, and it is our understanding that once that approval comes, the state Department of Consumer Protection will issue master wagering licenses. With the NFL season kickoff fast approaching, we are working to launch online gaming and sports betting as soon as we are legally allowed to do so.”
Connecticut Anxious to Get Going
Connecticut expects to see a lot of activity through its new gambling regime, which, in addition to sports betting, authorizes iGaming and poker. The tribes and the Connecticut Lottery will be able to open sportsbooks, once licenses are issued, and, with almost all states surrounding it getting in on the sports betting craze, Connecticut is ready to capture a piece of the action. With online poker being approved, as well, it’s likely that the state could explore online gaming compacts with other states in the next couple of years.
The new emergency rules, approved by a vote of 9-4 and one absence, will be valid for 180 days. During that time, lawmakers will explore the framework in more detail and determine what changes, if any, should be made. DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull asserts, “The purpose of this regulation is to create a licensing structure and implement provisions for responsible gaming and data privacy protections in order to ensure consumer safety and gaming integrity for new gaming markets in our state.”
Some lawmakers don’t believe there’s a rush to get the new market in place ahead of the NFL season. They believe that Connecticut should take its time and explore all of its options before making a quick decision, despite the fact that, by doing so, the state would potentially leave millions of dollars of revenue on the table. Lawmakers have had three years to discuss the state’s options, so, at this point, the rush is on only because they weren’t more proactive in preparing for the inevitable – the legalization of sports betting.