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Public Safety Committee approves sports gambling bill

Hartford

The Public Safety Committee today moved forward with bills dealing with sports gambling.

Joe Verrengia, the co-chair of Public Safety Committee said, “I think that the fact that we are a gaming state in order to remain competitive we need to continue to look at big picture so that our stakeholders can remain competitive here in the state of Connecticut.”

The committee touched on every aspect of Connecticut gambling from the expansion of casinos to sports betting and internet gambling. Dennis Bradley, the co-chair of Public Safety Committee told NEWS 8, “We want to see the state of Connecticut be the playground of the region of the northeast that when they think of a good time they think of Connecticut.”

Lawmakers voted on whether to establish a competitive bidding process for another casino and whether to allow the casino proposed by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes in East Windsor to open without federal approval. Senator Tony Hwang said there’s needs to be more research on the overall impact of gambling in the state.

Related: Gambling everywhere and on credit could be coming to Connecticut

In a statement, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler and acting Mohegan Tribal Chairman James Gessner said, “The best path forward is one that maintains the mutually beneficial partnership between our two tribes and the state. Any bill that undermines that partnership will simply cost the state jobs and revenue at a time when we can least afford it.” The statement said, “We know that economic development in Bridgeport is a priority for many legislators and for Governor Lamont. We want to say clearly that we can move forward with East Windsor and still find a solution that puts people to work in Bridgeport without putting a dollar of the revenue we currently send to the state at risk.” 

Sen. Tony Hwang added, “How sports and college sports could be impacted. That fact that we could have impact on young college students that’s are scarce on money that could be very influenced in the integrity of the game. But the other component is Internet gambling how do you control that? How do you regulate that?” Bradley said, “Cars are dangerous, Highways are dangerous, if you work in the kitchen knives are danger all of these are dangerous we face on a regular basis we have to try your best to mitigate those negative consequences that happen with all of these activities that we face and make sure we take care of people who have issues. But the vast majority of ours who can handle this in a responsible way we have to create avenues for them to enjoy themselves.”

Some lawmakers say more gaming would generate more revenue in the state. But not everyone agrees gaming will be sustainable in the future. Verrengia said, “It would mean more revenue and secondly as equally as important it brings it out into the sun and we would be able to regulate it.”

Sen. Hwang said, “The fact is gambling revenue has proceeded to decline. We have eight consecutive quarters of declining slot revenue.” This is just the first vote in a long process that will be headed to the house and senate. 

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