‘Deal that’s built to last’: Governor, tribal leaders discuss deal to modernize gaming options in CT

Connecticut

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — Calling it a “deal that’s built to last,” Governor Ned Lamont gathered with the tribal leaders who run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos Thursday to discuss the deal they reached and the push to get sports betting and iGaming legalized in Connecticut.

This deal will mean a lot to the state’s economy, and they hope to bring it to fruition by the start of the fall football season.

Gov. Lamont said, “I think we put in place a deal that makes sense. It makes sense for the tribes, it makes sense for the taxpayers of the state of Connecticut and it’s built to last.”

The historic agreement was a few years in the making. It was historic because it involved both tribal nations and the state and it also seeks to modernize gaming in Connecticut. That means online games and sports betting.

iCasino and iLottery are terms that may become more familiar to gamblers as online gaming and sports betting could be coming to a kiosk at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, a betting parlor in Bridgeport and Hartford, or a casino app on your cell phone. 

“As you’re betting on the Giants to lose…you could be pulling your favorite slot machine or playing blackjack at the same time,” said Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.

They believe this will increase foot traffic at the casinos and help rehire some of those workers laid off during the pandemic.

RELATED: Three I-gaming, sports betting bills approved by state Public Safety and Security Committee

“Our tribal partners are here to stay, and we wanted to put in place a deal that allows both casinos and the lottery corporation to continue to prosper in the 21st century,” said Gov. Ned Lamont.

The agreement still needs approval by the state legislature. If it gets that the final step would be that it would go to the Department of the Interior for federal approval of an amendment to the compact which has been in place between both tribes and the state since the ’90s.

“We have a new secretary of interior Deb Holland who was a colleague of mine in the house who’s no stranger to the region,” said Congressman Joe Courtney.

He and State Senator Cathy Osten (D – Sprague), believe the odds of approval are pretty good. Gaming bills have already gotten bipartisan support at the state capitol. But, there is expected to be some opposition.

“I think that’s more along the lines of people who don’t believe in gaming at all,” said Sen. Osten.

“It will allow the state to be more competitive with other states while generating more tax revenue,” said James Gessner, Jr., Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe.

The online gaming is expected to boost state coffers by between $70,000 and $80,000 and bring in more foot traffic to the casinos which have had to lay-off thousands during the pandemic. 

“Over 11% of the public that live in this community worked at both facilities,” said Mayor Peter Nystrom, (R) Norwich.

“I am absolutely knowing that those jobs will come back,” said Sen. Osten.

“The Mohegan tribe values our historic partnership with the state of Connecticut. A tremendous amount of work went into achieving this agreement,” said Chairman of Mohegan Tribe James Gessner.

“Not only will we see an incredible reach to broader parts of the state with online gaming, but we fully expect that it will drive additional foot traffic here to Southeastern Connecticut,” said Foxwoods Chairman Rodney Butler.

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