Though the Connecticut state general assembly adjourned for the year in early May with no action on sports betting, Governor Daniel Malloy isn’t willing to let the issue linger. According to an Associated Press report, Malloy on Monday indicated that he is going to explore the possibility of a special session, with the intent of making a move to legalize CT sports betting.
The AP reported that Malloy feels the state “must do something … as quickly as possible” on sports betting and that he will talk with key lawmakers later this week in an effort to organize a special session.
Earlier this year, it appeared as if Connecticut would be among the first movers in legalizing sports betting. But the session closed before the May 14 Supreme Court decision striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The state did not take any action, but had been actively exploring making sports betting legal.
Connecticut Faces Roadblocks, Including the League-Friendly ‘Integrity Fee’ and Tribal Compacts, Before Making CT Sports Betting Legal.
Among the roadblocks during the session were the pro leagues request for an “integrity fee” and the state’s tribal compacts. With regard to the integrity fee, some lawmakers and casino representatives laced into representatives from the NBA and MLB in February.
The biggest zinger may have come from Representative Daniel Rovero (D-Killingly, Putnam, Thompson), who joked he was “glad I didn’t get involved with you people.” Rovero went on to say that he thought the leagues were asking for too much.
But then in late March, SB 540, which includes a .25 percent “integrity fee,” was referred to the Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding. The bill remained there when the session adjourned, but the mere introduction of it shows that state lawmakers aren’t on the same page with regards to paying a cut to the leagues.
On the tribal front, Connecticut is running into the same issues as many other states – it gets tax a ton of revenue from gaming from the state’s two tribal casinos, and those same operators believe they have an exclusive right to sports betting. The state sees it a little differently, but apparently isn’t willing risk losing gaming revenue. Connecticut has also been mulling a new commercial casino, but must first hammer out an agreement with the tribes, which run the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, before moving forward.
Governor Want Special Session for CT Sports Betting, but Says Dealing With Tribal Interests Is ‘Complicated’ and Could Slow Process.
“We need to definitively state what our position is,” Malloy told the CT Post. “It’s a little bit more complicated in Connecticut given the compacts with the Indian tribes. It is my opinion, and the opinion of lawyers who have looked at this, that we move forward with a compact where we would not endanger the revenue we receive from the tribes.”
In addition, the state lottery wants in on the action.
Connecticut may also be feeling pressure to keep up with the Joneses – i.e. neighbors New Jersey and New York. New Jersey may be ready to take its first bet in June, with New York still a wild card. A little farther west, Pennsylvania has already made sports betting legal and Rhode Island, Connecticut’s direct neighbor to the east, has been steadily moving toward making sports betting legal.