Connecticut now needs only tribal compact approval from the Department of the Interior to legalize online gambling.

Connecticut Close To Legalizing Online Casinos, Poker, Sports Betting And Lottery Sales, Following Senate Approval

Connecticut will attempt to become the latest state to legalize iGaming and online sports betting. Gov. Ned Lamont applauded last night’s 28 to 6 Senate vote approving House Bill 6451. The bill now proceeds to his office for signature. Just one hurdle remains, and it’s outside of the state’s control.

Lamont has promised to sign HB 6451 into law, so there’s no problem there. However, the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the US Department of the Interior must then approve the new tribal compact. The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes own Connecticut’s casinos and enjoy a duopoly on casino gambling. Lamont negotiated a new deal with them in March, to allow the state lottery to share in sports betting in return for allowing the tribes to offer their casino games online.

Lamont commented today on the legislation:

“This is a significant moment for our state as, for the first time, we will allow sports wagering, online casino gaming and entry of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation into this space. I look forward to signing this legislation into law, which is in the best interests of the state of Connecticut and its citizens.”

The governor believes Connecticut casino apps and online sports betting will create tens of millions of dollars in revenue. There will be two such apps: DraftKings Casino CT/DraftKings Sportsbook CT, partnered with Foxwoods Resort Casino, and a still-to-be-determined partner for Mohegan Sun.

Update (05/27/21): Bill signed by Gov. Lamont

As far as Connecticut’s legislature is concerned, online casino, poker, sports betting and iLottery are all a done deal. On Thursday, Gov. Lamont signed the bill into law.

That puts the ball in the court of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, who must still ratify Connecticut’s amended compact with the state’s casino owners. In the meantime, state officials are proceeding under the assumption that the platforms will be able to launch by fall.

To that end, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC) announcement today lauding the measure’s approval said it’s “already engaged with prospective vendors and partners with the goal of launching our sports betting platform as quickly as possible. Formal responses to CLC’s sports betting RFP will be due in the next two weeks. … The CLC will also issue an RFP for an iLottery vendor in the coming days.”

What happens after Lamont signs the CT bill into law

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) is meant to protect tribes like the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot, but has been the subject of controversy. It has most recently become an issue in Florida.

It may prove less of a problem in Connecticut. The tribes, which own the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, seem to be more on the same page as the governor and legislature than their Seminole peers in Florida.

Yet despite Lamont’s agreement with the tribal leaders, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) must also give its assent. The commission’s site elaborates:

“IGRA gives the NIGC approval authority over management contracts and tribal gaming ordinances, and mandates the commission to provide training and technical assistance, and enforcement when necessary. Congress also vested the commission with broad authority to issue regulations in furtherance of the purposes of the IGRA.”

Connecticut is planning to launch by fall 2021

Tomorrow is the proposal deadline the lottery has given to organizations interested in providing Connecticut’s online sports betting solution. On June 10, the CT Lottery will select the winning provider. It will then be expected to be ready to go live with its solution in fall 2021.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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