Following last week’s committee hearing, lawmakers filed three more Connecticut gaming expansion bills.
That might make it seem like there’s dissension among legislators that could once again derail attempts to legalize sports betting and internet casino gaming in the state.
Sen. Cathy Osten tells PlayCT that isn’t the case. Osten previously expected that hers would be the only gaming expansion bill in Connecticut this session.
That quickly proved not to be true. But the bills introduced in the past week aren’t necessarily competing legislation. They don’t appear to present an alternative for tribal control over sports betting.
They, moreso, look to tweak her bill, which was filed in support of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations.
“No one is saying Sportech or MGM or the lottery should have sports betting,” Osten said. “None of that is in any of these concepts. No one is doing any of that this year.”
Looking at the three new CT gaming expansion bills
Sen. Dennis Bradley, Sen. Saud Anwar, and Rep. Emmett D. Riley introduced gaming bills since the hearing.
Anwar is a co-sponsor of Osten’s bill, so he’s not putting out a competing measure. His S 779 even has the same title as her bill. There’s no language in the bill. He just seems interested in making a stipulation about job creation in the gaming industry.
Osten noted that Riley’s H 6301 is market as being put in by request. It also has the same title as her bill and contains no language.
Bradley is a prominent lawmaker to introduce a bill, as Senate chair of the Joint Public Safety and Security Committee that handles gaming issues. He represents the state’s major city of Bridgeport. Osten’s bill last year included the tribes joining forces to build a casino in Bridgeport.
She removed that this year because the tribes don’t feel they are in a position to expand in the wake of economic setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic. His S 570 takes Osten’s language and adds back in a resort casino for Bridgeport. Osten said that’s a conversation that can be had as the legislation progresses.
“It’s just not going to happen based on the current climate,” Osten said. “He wants to have an open-ended please-do-it-should-the-money-ever-change kind of bill. I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to happen. I do know he’s supportive of my bill in general. I’m not worried about Dennis’ bill.”
Response to lottery participation in sports betting
Other Connecticut stakeholders who want to participate in sports betting include Sportech, which operates horse betting at off-track betting facilities, and the Connecticut Lottery Corporation.
At last week’s hearing, the lottery made a strong case to take part in sports betting. A lottery representative said the state would triple its annual tax revenue from $10 million to $30 million by including the lottery.
Osten admitted that the lottery made a compelling presentation, but she doesn’t see it succeeding.
“I don’t imagine anybody bought into the lottery’s idea of having 3,000 licensees for sports wagering,” Osten said. “I can’t imagine that people want every convenience store having people hanging out in them as the bets are flowing.”
Osten added that it is her understanding that the Connecticut Lottery Corporation is satisfied with the internet lottery and keno language in her bill.