Analysis

Tribes signal truce with Governor in Connecticut

If Connecticut is going to get sports betting, then it will have to be with the consent of the tribes – and this now looks forthcoming.

Tribal leaders in Connecticut appear to have been won over to the cause of both sports betting and online gaming, according to local media reports.

Acceptance by the tribal gaming operators in Connecticut is seen as vital to the prospects of any legislation.

Comments made by Rodney Butler, tribal chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots, owner of the Foxwoods, make for happy reading.

“We’ve had ongoing conversations with the governor,” he told the CT Mirror

“He has been engaged, and we’re looking forward to getting into much more detailed conversations.”

Butler previously signaled in the summer the pandemics effect on land-based casinos gave the matter of sports betting and online gaming more urgency.

“Now with the advent of COVID, it just seems more important than ever that we’ve got to move online,” he told a webinar hosted by the National Indian Gaming Association

In the mix

Previous attempts at getting sports betting on the legislative agenda failed due to the differing objectives of the tribes and the Governor.

However, signs of movement came last week when Foxwoods signed up with DraftKings to be its DFS and sports betting partner.

That deal came in the wake of public comments from Gov. Ned Lamont that suggested sports-betting could gain approval next year.

Moreover, the likelihood is that online gaming will be included in the legislative package.

“I think Connecticut should participate,” said Lamont. 

“If we found out anything in the course of this horrible COVID cycle, more and more of the world is going virtual, more and more of the world is going online. 

“That’s tele-health and tele-learning, but it’s also iGaming and sports betting. And I don’t think you want Connecticut left behind.”

Connecticut is currently T19th in the Wedge Index of gaming friendliness. Were it to regulate online gaming as well as sports-betting, it would vault the state well into the top 10.

More optimism

The CT Mirror also quoted Rep. Sean Scanlon who said about the reignited plans he “believe(s) it is going to happen”.

Scanlon is the new chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.

Advocacy for sports betting in Connecticut is being led by currently UK-listed Sportech via the sportbettingforct.com website.

Sportech already offers OTB horseracing betting in Connecticut.

The lobbying site argues the state has a “rare opportunity” to mitigate a potential $128m budget deficit caused by the pandemic.

Sportech is currently subject to a bid for the pool-betting elements of its business from Betmakers Technology Group in Australia.

The lobbying site positions Sportech as a “trusted, ready and regulated” potential partner for the state and its lottery.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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