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Will the pandemic push sports betting in Connecticut?


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Could the pandemic be the push to allow online sports betting in our state?

In 2018, a Supreme Court ruling allowed states around the country to legalize sports betting, but Connecticut never got into the game. Whether sports betting will be on the table during this month’s special legislative session is unclear.

Governor Ned Lamont said, “Online gaming is following every other part of our economy so I think it’s part of our future.”

In Connecticut, gamblers can only wager bets on Jai Alai, greyhounds and horses. In nearby Rhode Island and a dozen other states, sports betting is allowed.

“States around us are seeing success and it’s getting people excited about the opportunities here in Connecticut,” said Rodney Butler, Chairman Foxwoods.

The Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots believe they have the exclusive rights to run sports betting in Connecticut.

“We are optimistic that either it be in the special session hopefully in September, they are talking about doing some sort of economic stimulus proposal that we could be included in that,” added Butler.

But Sportech, who has the exclusive rights to run off track betting, would like to be a part of any deal.

“It would be a marvelous opportunity and it would be great for taxes as well. We all know the state needs more tax revenues,” said Ted Taylor, Sportech.

Last year, Sportech paid $5 million to the state in gaming “sin taxes.” The two tribal casinos paid $255 million in slot revenues.

Many say sports betting, iGaming, and iLottery could bring $80 million to the state. In a pandemic, many say that’s a win win.

The question is who will be allowed to control the transaction?

“Everyone has a role in that, even Sportech. Even they have a role in that. We could work with them to be a partner with us in operating those facilities under the guise of tribal sovereignty and under the guise of the exclusivity of our compacts.”

“It’s the state’s duty, or job or right to decide how sports betting is delivered,” countered Sportech’s Taylor.

Governor Lamont says his “door is open” to negotiations. He also says the new chairman of the CTLottery is taking the lead in the discussions.

Executives have said publicly they would be the best entity to run sports betting because they would give all revenues to the state.

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