Connecticut Lottery officials announced Monday that they had received 15 Request for Qualifications (RFQ) responses as bids to offer sports betting as of last Friday’s deadline.
The lottery issued the RFQ April 12 to “qualified and experienced sports betting solution providers for online and retail sports wagering systems and services.”
“We are pleased to see significant interest from companies who would like to partner with the CLC to bring our online and retail sports betting offering to market,” Rob Simmelkjaer, chairman of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, said in a statement. “Our staff and board will now begin a process of carefully reviewing the qualifications of the submitting parties as we work towards choosing the right partner in this important initiative for our state.”
The lottery is expected to be authorized to conduct online and retail sports wagering in the state through the use of contracted agents and vendors. This expectation is based on an agreement reached in March between Gov. Ned Lamont and leaders of the state’s two tribes — the Mashantucket Pequots, who are partners with DraftKings, and the Mohegans, who have a deal in place with Kambi.
Connecticut hasn't legalized sports betting, but a state casino is now partnering with DraftKings https://t.co/Lg0G078qbl
— Alfonso Straffon 🇨🇷🇺🇸🇲🇽 (@astraffon) December 8, 2020
The sports betting tax rate for sports betting for those tribal partners will be 13.75%. The lottery partner’s rate will be part of the bidding process.
More than 12 retail sportsbooks on way for CT
Under terms of the agreement, the lottery shall have the right to operate 15 retail sports betting locations, as well as operate a single online sports betting skin.
“Due to the confidential nature of the RFQ process, and the need for full legislation to come forth from the Connecticut General Assembly, the CLC will not release any further information at this time,” a Lottery official stated.
Still, the most obvious “missing piece” at this point in Connecticut would be FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports rival of DraftKings that — like DraftKings — has taken a dominant role in a number of states.
William Hill, BetMGM, and Penn National/Barstool seem likely to be among the 15 applicants.
According to the RFQ, “retail locations may be owned or leased locations operated by third parties, or may be owned or leased and operated by your company.
“Two larger retail locations are envisioned for Bridgeport and Hartford; other locations may be within existing off-track-betting (OTB) locations of the state’s current OTB operator; and others may be coordinated within existing lottery licensed locations. Retail locations in the state could include physical sportsbook windows staffed or trained by your company, kiosks only, or a blend of both selling methods.
The stated goal is for “retail sportsbooks that are first-rate entertainment venues with commercially appealing location, atmosphere and décor.”
Next steps on the way this week
Lottery officials this week will review responses, then select some respondents for video conference presentations this week. Those presentations could begin as soon as Tuesday, though the CLC was quick to point out that it cannot move forward with hiring a partner until the state legislature and Gov. Ned Lamont legalize sports betting. The CLC’s timeline assumes legal sports betting by “the end of the current legislative session typically ending in early June.”
From the release:
There remain several key developments that must be completed before legal sports betting can commence in Connecticut, including but not limited to:
– Passage by the legislature of enabling legislation and signature by the governor;
– Amendment of current tribal compacts and approval by the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
– Identification of the controlling regulatory body and adoption of comprehensive regulations. The Governor has stated a goal of launching sports betting as soon as September 2021.
CT Public Safety & Security approved a package of gambling bills, including several that would legalize sports betting, Weds morning. Bills reflect recent compact agreement between the Gov. & the 2 federally recognized tribes, now go to the chamber floors for votes.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) March 24, 2021
Bidders were asked to provide details on the states in which the bidders already offer sports betting and what their market share is for each state — as well as a description of states where a bidder has received approval but regulators have not yet finalized the rules.
It’s noteworthy that the RFQ notes that the state “has particular interest in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and other nearby states.” A few states have experimented with allowing small “mom-and-pop operations” to apply or even be approved, but it appears from the RFQ that the operator chosen by the Connecticut Lottery will be a familiar name brand.