Lottery Narrows Field, Moves Closer To Selecting Sports Betting Partner

Written By Martin Harris on May 17, 2021
The Connecticut Lottery is still moving quickly, preparing themselves for the moment sports betting becomes legal in the state.

The timeline has shifted forward a bit. But the Connecticut Lottery is still moving quickly, preparing themselves for the moment sports betting becomes legal in the state.

This week the CT Lottery narrowed its list of potential sports betting partners to a small handful of frontrunners. From 15 initial respondents to the request for qualifications, the CT Lottery has asked five operators to give formal presentations.

In fact, only four of those five were asked specifically to respond to the “Request For Proposals” offering a “Sports Betting Solution” issued by the Connecticut Lottery on Monday.

Lottery targeting June 10 to choose sports betting partner

Last month the CT Lottery shared a tentative timeline suggesting it would select its sports betting partner by next week. That schedule has changed. The announcement of their selection or “Preliminary Notice of Award” will now come June 10, 2021.

While legislation still needs to pass and amended tribal compacts still require federal approval, the CT Lottery nonetheless pushes forward. Lottery officials hope they will be ready to launch once those other necessary hurdles have been cleared.

At present, lawmakers and the two federally recognized Connecticut tribes, the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, have agreed upon certain particulars of the CT Lottery’s involvement in Connecticut sports betting.

The tribes will each operate one online skin and one retail sportsbook. Meanwhile the Connecticut Lottery will likewise have one online skin while also having the opportunity to operate up to 15 retail sports betting locations. Two of those retail locations will be in Bridgeport and Hartford.

Ideally, the launch of sports betting in the state could arrive in time for the 2021 NFL season.

The tribes have both already partnered with operators for sports betting. The Mashantucket Pequot tribe has aligned with DraftKings, while the Mohegans have chosen Kambi.

Those choices might suggest the Connecticut Lottery will choose a different sports betting partner. However, the list of operators vying to partner with the CT Lottery remains confidential as the process plays out.

Criteria could change as sports betting legislation details evolve

The chosen candidates have until May 27 to complete and submit their formal proposals. That said, the call for proposals is still technically open to any candidates wishing to submit formal responses.

In an executive committee meeting on Thursday, Rob Simmelkjaer, chairman of the CT Lottery, indicated the finalists were chosen “primarily based on their qualifications that were presented and based on our expectation of the law.”

In an amendment to the call for proposals, the CT Lottery asks prospective partners to supply details of “primary economic features” of their operation, including:

  • minimum capital investment for retail
  • maximum deduction of costs (both with and without marketing and promotion)
  • minimum acceptable annual revenue share
  • an example of a given year’s revenue share breakdown

Given that lawmakers are still debating precisely what the sports betting bill will include, the outcome of those negotiations could potentially affect the suitability of the Lottery’s sports betting partners. Simmelkjaer intimated as much when noting that what the CT Lottery is looking for could change if the legislation were to be revised.

Simmelkjaer additionally indicated he expected the House to introduce its sports betting bill in “fairly short order.”

Besides pushing forward the CT Lottery’s expected date to choose its partner, the new “System Go-Live Date” has also been changed to a less-specific “Fall 2021.”

Previously, the CT Lottery had designated Sept. 6 for “System launch” on its tentative timeline.

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