Connecticut lawmakers set to consider legal online gambling once again

Connecticut Lawmakers Push For Expanded Gambling, But It’s A Big Lift

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After individual attempts to legalize sports betting, online gambling, and a new land-based casino stalled, Connecticut lawmakers are floating a comprehensive proposal for expanded gambling.

The bipartisan bill, dubbed the Connecticut Jobs and Revenue Act, is still in its early form and has yet to be formally introduced.

A draft published by WFSB on Wednesday includes sweeping authorization for CT online gambling.

Under the hood of the Connecticut gambling bill

The proposed legislation is all-encompassing. The bill would legalize online casinos and online poker, online and retail sports betting, and online lottery sales.

The big-ticket item, however, is the long-sought tribal casino in Bridgeport.

The Mohegan and Pequot tribes would jointly operate the new $300 million venue, plus additional “entertainment zone facilities” in Hartford and two other cities pending local approval. While not casinos per se, the bill would also authorize sports betting and esports at these locations.

The tribes would continue to pay 25% of slot revenue to the state, but lawmakers are seeking to include a new 10% tax on table games.

CT online gambling under tribal control

The bill would give the Mohegan and Pequot exclusive rights to offer online gambling in Connecticut across all verticals except lottery.

It proposes the following tax rates:

  • Online casino/poker: 10%
  • Online sports betting: 10%
  • Retail sports betting: 8%

The current version of the bill does not include any fees or specific regulations apart from a cap on the number of online brands. The draft allows each licensee just a single online casino skin and a single online sports betting skin.

What chance does the bill have?

The formal introduction is, of course, the first hurdle to clear.

That task is not an easy one in the short term, as the Connecticut Legislature stands adjourned for 2019. While a special session remains a possibility, the bill is more likely a precursor to a 2020 effort.

And then there are the specific policies, coupled with the state’s recent inability to appease industry stakeholders.

Despite a two-tribe monopoly on casino gambling, Connecticut has a lot of moving pieces — including off-track betting parlors, a state lottery and continued pressure from commercial casinos to bid on new projects.

Due to the sheer scope of the bill, all of these parties will likely be involved in the process. And a stalemate on any single issue could sink the whole ship.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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