An agreement has been reached this week to modernization Connecticut’s gaming operations, including the introduction of sports betting and online gaming.
Governor Ned Lamont, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe Chairman Rodney Butler, and Mohegan Tribe Chairman James Gessner Jr have agreed to a deal that aims to generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for the state. It also sets out to keep Connecticut competitive with gaming currently being offered or considered in neighboring states.
The Connecticut Lottery Corporation has also been included as a partner in the effort to modernize the state’s gaming landscape.
Under the terms of the proposed modernization plan, there will be an 18% tax rate for the first five years on new online commercial casino gaming (igaming) offerings, followed by a 20% tax rate for at least the next five years. Sports wagering will be levied at 13.75%.
The Connecticut Lottery will have the right to operate 15 retail sports betting locations, as well as operate an online sports betting skin and the ability to sublicense locations to the state-licensed parimutuel operator. The lottery will also undertake new retail sports betting venues in Hartford and Bridgeport
The license agreement has been set for 10 years with a five-year extension option and there are plans for expansion of ilottery and Keno through the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, including the sale of draw tickets online.
Both tribes, meanwhile, have agreed to halt development of an East Windsor casino through the duration of the agreement.
Said Lamont: “Connecticut is on the cusp of providing a modern, technologically advanced gaming experience for our residents, which will be competitive with our neighboring states. Our state’s tribal partners have worked with my administration thoughtfully, deliberately, and in a constructive fashion for the past few months, and we have achieved an agreement that is best for Connecticut residents and their respective tribal members.
“We will work to see it ratified and look forward to doing so through a collaborative effort, to include working with elected leaders in the General Assembly.”
Gessner Jr added: “The Mohegan Tribe is very thankful to our partners in government, both the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the State of Connecticut, for reaching collective agreement on a path forward for modernizing our state’s gaming entertainment industry.
“This will allow Connecticut to generate tax revenues from sports and online gaming that are competitive with other states, to the benefit of both state and local municipal budgets, as well as our tribe’s members. We look forward to continued work with the General Assembly on this topic, especially the many dedicated legislators who have partnered with and supported Connecticut’s tribes throughout this process.”
Offering the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal perspective, Butler noted: “We’re proud of this landmark agreement with the State of Connecticut that cements a historic moment for our Tribal Nation. This agreement bolsters the state’s economic development and growth, and allows us to develop a stable economic foundation for the future of our tribal community.
“We thank Governor Lamont, members of the southeastern delegation, the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, and the many members of the General Assembly who have supported us continually throughout this journey. We are grateful for their friendship and look forward to working together as this proposal moves forward.”
While this latest development will be generally welcomed by proponents of legal sports betting in Connecticut, it has been viewed less favorably by London-based Sportech, operator of 14 Winners Venues, an online wagering platform @ MyWinners.com, and two Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar locations in the state.
The firm’s CEO, Richard McGuire, responded to the news, saying: “Sportech supports expanded gaming in the state. However, federal and state law mandates a level playing field. Yesterday’s announcement does not appear to offer that level playing field. Connecticut consumers will be deprived of a healthy competitive betting marketplace and the Connecticut jobs that Sportech supports will be at risk.
“We continue our dialogue with the administration in pursuing gaming expansion that does not contravene laws and discriminate against not only our employees, but all Connecticut consumers.”