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As Online Poker Report speculated a couple of weeks ago, there also appears to be some appetite for online gambling in Connecticut. The topic was brought up several times by the three lawmakers that held the press conference.
Also on Wednesday, an online lottery bill surfaced in the state.
First and foremost, the trio used the opportunity to bring everyone up to speed on where the state currently stands. They laid out the next steps for the state as it contemplates legalizing sports betting.
Next up is an already scheduled informational forum tomorrow, March 1, with representatives from Major League Baseball and the NBA, as well as stakeholders in the sports betting industry.
That will be followed by a newly announced March 8 informational hearing. In that gathering, a wider group of gambling topics will be discussed.
“The Public Safety Committee has its plate full when it comes to gaming issues,” Verrengia said. “I thought the timing of having a forum, a national perspective on gaming — including casino gaming, sports betting, fantasy sports, off-track betting — it would be a good time to invite leaders in those industries to come to Connecticut and give us a sense of what’s happened at the national level, and give the committee members an opportunity to get the lay of the landscape and ask those leaders questions.”
In addition to the second hearing, the three lawmakers made several overt references to online gambling. Taken together, it appears that sports betting might not be the only gaming expansion/reform state lawmakers have their eyes on.
A couple comments from the press conference stuck out as interesting, provided you’re willing to read some tea leaves.
Verrengia left the door wide open for gaming other than sports betting, saying he hopes the input the state receives during the March 8 forum will help state lawmakers when they, “attempt draft legislation when it comes to sports betting… in particular.”
Aresimowicz specifically mentioned online gambling, and did so in the context of needing to legalize sports betting to bring it out in the open and capture the money currently being spent in black markets.
“The world has changed, even since we’ve done the compact,” he said. “You can now gamble online. This is a new area; we believe we should have the discussions.”
Aresimowicz went on to say,”We’ll work with the attorneys; we’ll work with the committees, and we’ll work with the Attorney General’s office to ensure whatever we pass looks out for the state of Connecticut number one, and then our many providers throughout the state.”
Verrengia’s “in particular,” and Aresimowicz’s “whatever we pass,” signal at the very least an openness to do craft legislation that goes beyond sports betting.
That augurs well with statements made in a press release by PariPlay, which recently partnered with Foxwoods Resort Casino to bring on-site real-money online gaming to the property.
“The Pariplay on-premises solution is an exciting new amenity that will allow our guests to game anywhere that is legally permissible, and will allow us to prepare for broader opportunities outside of the four walls of the physical property.”
“It is also an excellent new business opportunity for this organization, and by proxy the state of Connecticut, as iGaming has demonstrated its ability to both drive new revenues and augment the operations at brick-and-mortar facilities.”
It’s very early in the process, but it appears Connecticut is considering letting online gambling piggyback on sports betting legislation.
An online lottery bill was also introduced on Wednesday.
The bill authorizes “the Connecticut Lottery Corporation shall establish a program to sell lottery tickets for lottery draw games through the corporation’s Internet web site, online service or mobile application,” provided the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe are on board.
The bill limits what can be sold online, which pretty much corresponds with its land-based offerings:
The bottom line: Connecticut is about to take a hard look at all sorts of gaming expansions.