Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and the Mohegans, one of the state’s two federally recognized tribes, on Tuesday announced that they have reached an agreement that would pave the way for legal online gambling and sports betting in the state.
The agreement practically permits non-tribal gambling operators to enter Connecticut for the very first time ever. Gaming practices have up until now been limited to two tribal casinos and the state-run Lottery.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe was notably missing from the Tuesday announcement. State lawmakers said that there was still one financial point that tribe and the Governor’s office needed to discuss.
The Mohegans operate the Mohegan Sun casino resort in Uncasville, while the Mashantucket Pequots run Foxwoods Resort Casino. The two tribes have been paying a portion of their annual slots revenue to the state in exchange for their exclusivity over Las Vegas-style gaming.
Under the terms of the newly announced sports betting and iGaming deal, the Connecticut Lottery Corp. will be allowed to operate up to 15 retail sports betting facilities around the state and an online wagering skin.
It will also have the right to sub-license some of the above 15 sites to Connecticut’s pari-mutuel operator, Sportech.
Betting and online gambling licenses will be valid for 10 years with an option for a five-year extension. The Lottery will also establish new retail wagering locations in Hartford and Bridgeport.
Under the agreement, sports betting revenue will be taxed at 13.75%, while online gaming will be taxed at 20%. The iGaming tax rate has been supported by the Mohegan Tribe, but the Mashantucket Pequots have opposed it.
Agreement May Face Legal Action
Following the Tuesday announcement, the Mashantucket Pequot’s tribal chairman, Rodney Butler, said that the fact his tribe was not mentioned, even though it was a party to the negotiations, was offensive.
Mr. Butler told local media that they have participated in the sports betting and iGaming discussions “in good faith” and that Tuesday’s events were “extremely disrespectful in terms of process and substance.”
He went on that his tribe only has one remaining point of contention that can be easily resolved as long as there is “some sense of mutual respect” for the Mashantucket Pequots’ specific needs.
The tribal leader also pointed out that both tribes have made “substantial concessions” over the course of discussions with state lawmakers and that his own tribe is down to one final point that when resolved would see the creation of one “great deal” for everyone involved.
The Mashantucket Pequots were not the only party that felt offended by the Tuesday announcement. Sportech, which holds a pari-mutuel license from the state, threatened to challenge the deal in court as it “principally excludes” the company from Connecticut’s gambling expansion effort.
The agreement still has a long way to go before being enforced. It must be reviewed by the US Department of the Interior, which could take between 60 and 90 days. Connecticut’s General Assembly also must give it the green light.
According to Mashantucket Pequot’s chair, the legalization of sports betting and online casino would generate between $40 million and $50 million for the state and that the expanded market will be a decent-sized one and quite in line with other states where sports betting has been legalized after the US Supreme Court’s historic 2018 ruling that paved the way for legal athletic gambling in the country.
Source: “Gov. Ned Lamont and the Mohegan Tribe agree on online gambling, opening Connecticut to commercial betting. But it’s not enough to avoid a lawsuit.”, The Hartford Courant, March 2, 2021
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