CT gaming expansion bill ready for Lamont’s signature; some fear it’s a bad bet

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The bill expanding online gaming and sports betting in Connecticut passed in the State Senate Tuesday night, and it’s now headed to the governor’s desk. He is expected to sign it within the next 24-hours, but some fear it’s a bad bet.

Gov. Lamont tells News 8, “We want to get this going. We want to get this down to the Bureau of Indian affairs for approval as quickly as we can. Football season is coming in a few months, so let’s go.”

RELATED: State Senate passes expansion of gaming in Connecticut, heads to Gov. Lamont’s desk for signature

The historic legislation passed the state senate around the stroke of midnight Tuesday night. Several lawmakers voted against the deal.

State Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) said, “We have seen gambling addiction increase exponentially. Not incrementally, but exponentially.”

He voted against expanding gaming in our state, concerned about the social impact.

“For all of us that know Candy Crush, you could literally put a dollar denomination on there and that’s gambling,” added Hwang.

State Senator Cathy Osten, a Democrat from Sprague where the district encompasses the two casinos, says there are safeguards in the technology: “The platforms themselves keep track of a lot of different things.”

The bill which, passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and House, now heads to the governor’s desk. He’s expected to sign it soon.

The Tribal leaders of the state’s two casinos are happy. “We were texting each other last night,” laughed Osten.

The Mohegan Tribal Chair James Gessner says, “By modernizing our gaming industry in these ways, Connecticut will keep pace with neighboring states, protecting Connecticut jobs, generating tax revenues.”

The Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots Rodney Butler adds this is “another milestone in what has been a long journey.’’

The tribes have been keeping the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs informed every step of the way. The amendment to their compact must be approved by the federal government.

Senator Osten is optimistic, saying, “The secretary of the Department of the Interior is Native American herself and that is something that will happen rather fast.”

The 10-year deal includes tax revenues of nearly $300-million over time. Online gaming, sports betting, and fantasy sports will be regulated by the state. The CT Lottery will open 15 locations for customers to place a bet including one in Hartford and one in Bridgeport.

They could partner with exclusive off-track betting operator Sportech – which is holding off on a lawsuit. Telling News 8, “Sportech and the Administration have been negotiating…without the need for judicial intervention.”

Lawmakers from East Windsor also voted against the deal. They were supposed to get a casino, but that is now off the table. A gamble that didn’t payout.

State Sen. Hwang fears for the future, adding, “Here we are going headstrong into a new environment because everyone else is doing it.”

The best prediction by leaders at the Capitol is you’ll be able to place a bet on your phone by Labor Day.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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