HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — For the fifth year in a row, it’s ‘place your bets’ at the State Capitol. Proposals to authorize sports wagering are moving forward in a legislative committee this week. A full public hearing on the proposals is planned later this month, but Tuesday the committee that oversees all forms of gambling set the stage.
The Mohegan Tribe that operates the Mohegan Sun casino complex in Uncasville and several others around the world, and the Mashantucket Pequot tribe that operates the Foxwoods casino complex in Mashantucket are both heavily advocating for a bipartisan proposal that gives them the right to operate sports betting, along with an additional gambling facility, in Bridgeport.
Both tribes estimate they could get sports gambling up and running in time for this fall’s pro football season.
“We’ve been preparing this for a long time. We were hoping that the state would have reacted sooner and been first in the game. If we look at it now; we already have Rhode Island and New Hampshire in the game and we’re not and I think we’re falling behind them.”– Ray Pineault, a member of the Mohegan Tribe and President of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment
The Public Safety Committee that oversees all forms of gambling agreed to move the bill forward Tuesday, but the committee co-chairman, Rep. Joe Verrengia (D-West Hartford) says a second proposal will also be on the table describing it this way, “I favor a competitive process with the in-state stake holders, gaming operators that are already licensed here in the state.”
That would cut in ‘Sportech’ which operates the state’s off-track betting facilities into the sports betting pie along with the state lottery.
And like the plan that favors only the tribes, this approach also has bipartisan support.
“I’ve always felt that competition is the best thing for the state of Connecticut for consumers, its taxpayers and, ultimately, the state of Connecticut.”– Committee Ranking member Rep. J.P. Sredzinski (R-Monroe)
The Mashantucket tribal chairman, Rodney Butler, said Tuesday that once the state cuts a deal with the tribes, the “Sportech” facilities could be negotiated in.
“As we roll this out when this passes this session there’s certainly opportunity to work with them on some of their locations. They’re prime real estate and they’ve invested a lot of dollars in them”– Mashantucket tribal chairman, Rodney Butler
Like the casinos, the off-track betting facilities say that sports wagering will bring more people in their doors. All sides agree; there’s not a lot of profit in sports betting for anyone, including state government, but all gambling venues want it because gamblers want it.