Connecticut Lottery Reviewing Pitches For Sports Betting Partner, Eyes Launch By 2021 NFL Season

Written By Martin Harris on April 29, 2021

Legal sports betting has yet to arrive in Connecticut, and there is still work to be done before it will.

That said, both the state legislature and Connecticut Lottery are taking steps in an effort to bring sports betting to CT sooner rather than later. The hope of launching the industry in time for the 2021 NFL season currently inspires their urgency.

This week, the Connecticut Lottery in particular has been busy in its effort to select a partner to provide sports betting. According to lottery officials, that choice will be made in less than a month.

No shortage of interest to partner with CT Lottery

Anticipating both legislation passing and compacts getting amended and approved, the Connecticut Lottery requested potential sports betting partners to make their interest known by presenting their qualifications. Despite only an 11-day window for applicants, the lottery received 15 responses to their request.

In an effort to narrow the field, the lottery is hearing presentations this week. They will then choose finalists who will submit formal proposals. The lottery says it will choose its sports betting partner by May 17.

Rob Simmelkjaer, chairman of the CT Lottery, explained to Legal Sports Report that the evaluation of bids will include considering multiple criteria, including:

  • Quality of product
  • Competitiveness of pricing
  • Strategies for customer acquisition and retention
  • Readiness to provide retail sports betting
  • Commitment to responsible gaming

While the candidates petitioning to partner with the Connecitcut Lottery remain confidential, Simmelkjaer did note that DraftKings has already partnered with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe and Foxwoods. That would suggest the CT Lottery would work with a different partner.

Details of CT sports betting coming into place

In 2017, Connecticut passed a tentative gaming package contingent on a change to federal law. A ruling from the US Supreme Court in May 2018 removed the federal prohibition, allowing states to proceed with legalized gambling. That could not happen in Connecticut, however, until the completion of certain other steps.

On the legislative side, lawmakers still need to pass an updated sports betting bill. They also need to approve amendments to tribal-state compacts with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The Bureau of Indian Affairs must also approve the amended compacts.

Movement continues on both fronts, including multiple bills working their way through both House and Senate committees.

The current agreement includes the following details:

  • Three online skins, one each for the two tribes and a third for the Connecticut Lottery
  • Tribes can operate retail sportsbooks at their casinos, and the CT Lottery is allowed up to 15 retail sports betting locations (with one each in Bridgeport and Hartford)
  • A 13.75% tax on sports betting revenue
  • A 10-year term on the agreement with a five-year extension option

Targeting the start of NFL season to launch

In addition to other details, a controlling regulatory body also needs to be identified, one that will be charged with creating sports betting rules once the law is passed.

Referencing all of these many steps, the Connecticut Lottery has shared a tentative timeline suggesting “system development, testing and implementation” could be performed from mid-June to early September, with a possible “system launch” date of Sept. 6.

Meeting such a target would make sports betting live in time for the start of the NFL season on Sept. 9.

Of course, there is still a lot of ground to cover. Even so, Connecticut finds itself closer than ever before to reaching the sports betting goal line.

Photo by AP / Elise Amendola
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