Connecticut Advances Online Gambling Bills

Connecticut lawmakers pushed a number of bills Tuesday that touch on nearly each aspect of gambling in Connecticut, including adding more casinos and legalized sports wagering.

But members from the General Assembly’s Public Security Committee noted how many particulars from the proposals, some of which are at odds with one another, remain unfinished and mainly likely should await the outcome of negotiations presently under way with Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.

“I understand that there’s a lot more people than within this space that have to be part of this discussion,” stated state Rep. Pat Boyd, D-Pomfret. Lamont has met privately using the state’s two federally recognized tribal nations, the owners and operators of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. The tribes’ revenue-sharing agreement with the state could be at danger if additional gambling is authorized in Connecticut, offered that the tribes presently have exclusive rights to particular forms of gambling in exchange for providing the state 25 percent from the casinos’ slot machine revenues.

“This is like we’re in chapter two of a fairly lengthy book,” Boyd stated. “This legislature needs to think lengthy and hard about what we’re doing long-term.”

The committee on Tuesday voted in favor of bills that would establish a competitive bidding procedure for another casino in the state, possibly in Bridgeport, and allow a planned East Windsor casino owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to open with out a long-delayed federal approval, as was needed below a previous state law.

The tribes have said they require the satellite casino to blunt competitors from MGM Resorts’ new casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts.

Tribal leaders had initially hoped to open the casino before MGM opened its doors last August, but their plans were stymied by the U.S. Division of Interior, which refused to sign off on an amended revenue-sharing agreement in between the state and the tribes. A federal investigation into former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinnke and his agency’s handling from the matter is below way. He has dismissed the allegations as politically motivated.

“It doesn’t take rocket science to determine that some thing was terribly amiss with that process,” said state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, a proponent of the legislation scrapping the needed federal approval.

The committee on Tuesday also advanced bills legalizing sports wagering; web gambling; web keno, a lottery-like gambling game; and on-line state lottery draw games. It’s unclear whether those bills will in the end become law. Some lawmakers raised concerns about the details, like why the legislation would bar betting on Connecticut college sports teams but not betting on out-of-state college teams.

State Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, questioned why Connecticut wasn’t waiting to see how legalized sports betting functions out in other states prior to enacting it.

“I do not see this becoming a benefit to our state apart from monetarily,” he said. “And I believe that is incorrect.”

Lawmakers also gave the go-ahead to bills that study the unwanted side effects of legalized gambling, produce a brand new Commission on Gaming, and create much more funding for treatment for issue gambling.

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