A gambling expansion bill has finally made headway in Connecticut. After passing with the Senate late Tuesday evening, the measure now heads to the governor’s desk. Sports betting and online gambling are close to passing into law, after years of debate on the subject.
Moving forward with a vote of 28-6, the measure had enough bipartisan support to push forward before the midnight hour. The legislation includes an agreement that Governor Ned Lamont was able to reach with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes back in March. House members approved the same bill last week and now it only needs the governor’s signature to become law.
The legislation allows the compacts held between the tribes and the state to be amended. The operators of the Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun will soon be able to provide sports betting services to players along with online gambling and online fantasy sports.
In exchange for the ability to offer such services, the tribes will provide a portion of the new revenues to the state. While the legislation amends the compacts with the tribes, the United States Department of the Interior must still approve the changes before the services can begin.
Connecticut is hopeful that it will be able to launch sports betting operations by the fall. If the proper approvals are given, the state can offer services before the NFL football season begins.
Along with the tribes, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation will be allowed to offer online sports betting as well as retail options. A total of 15 locations can be opened by the lottery including one in Bridgeport and Hartford.
When it comes to online gambling, the state will tax gross gaming revenues at 18%. This tax rate will stand for the first five years of operation. After that time frame, the rate goes up to 20% for the next five years. Sports betting and fantasy services will be taxed at a lower 13.75%.
While there was support for the legislative changes, there was also worry. Senator Tony Hwang has been opposed to the expansion for quite some time and warned that the gambling addiction problem in the state would increase due to the launch of iGaming.
Hwang asked lawmakers to increase funding for gambling awareness and treatment. He also wanted to see a study conducted to review how the expansion would impact the state overall. Senator Mae Flexer was also worried about the problem gambling effects but said she supported the measure because it would help the tribes. She commented on how they are two major employees in the state and have faced stiff competition over the years from neighboring states as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the end, the concerns were not enough to see the measure avoid passage. Now, the governor’s signature and federal approval of the compact changes are the only things that stand in the way of the gambling expansion in the state.