There’s a legislative effort and an executive effort to legalize sports betting and online casino gambling in Connecticut, and the two aren’t on the same page.
There’s hope that will change Tuesday.
Gov. Ned Lamont recently filed legislation asking for authority to amend tribal agreements to add sports betting and online gambling to their permitted gaming activities.
The bill will be among four proposals heard Tuesday in the Joint Public Safety and Security Committee.
The Senate chair of the committee, Sen. Dennis Bradley, expressed to PlayCT his displeasure that the governor hasn’t been more forthcoming on details of his proposed gambling expansion and discussions with Native American tribes.
“The governor and his staff have been extremely silent with what the process is going to be and exactly what he wants to implement,” Bradley said. “I’m frustrated with his lack of leadership, clarity, and direction on the subject matter.”
Governor not involving lawmakers in tribal discussions
Connecticut tasks the governor with negotiating tribal agreements.
For several months, Lamont has negotiated with leaders of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations. The tribes run two resort casinos in eastern Connecticut, Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun.
However, the legislature must approve any amended compact. With this bill, Lamont seems to be asking for preapproval without providing any implementation details. This doesn’t sit well with some lawmakers.
“We as a legislature might be willing to grant him that if we knew what he was working on with the tribes,” Bradley said. “There has to be some divulging of what direction he is going in. I’m the chair of the committee, so you’d think I’d have that info.”
He hopes to get more info Tuesday. A representative of the governor is expected to speak about his bill at the hearing. However, it remains to be seen how forthcoming the governor’s agent will be.
Senate chair pushing Bridgeport as a sports betting hub
Bradley’s main concern is that any Connecticut gambling expansion includes his district in the city of Bridgeport.
Osten told PlayCT that her bill, which offers the tribal blueprint for expanded gambling, could bring an added $9 million in local share from tribal gaming to Bridgeport.
But Bradley wants more for the state’s most populous city in return for granting the tribes exclusivity over sports betting.
Bradley’s demands include:
- Having the tribes pay the state 15% on online gambling revenues and 12% on sports betting revenues (as opposed to 10% and 8% in Osten’s bill).
- Have hardware and software for online gambling hosted in Bridgeport.
- If the tribes expand retail sports betting locations outside their casinos, place one or more in Bridgeport.
- Revive a proposal for tribes to jointly build a casino in Bridgeport at a later date.
“There’s opportunity for us to bring actual jobs and economic development to the city of Bridgeport,” Bradley said. “Instead of being the largest forgotten city in the state of Connecticut, I’d like to see us revitalized and the center of industry we used to be.”