Connecticut Eyes Internet Poker and Gambling in New Proposal
There was progress in Connecticut in 2018, with lawmakers taking a more serious look at forms of internet gambling than in the past. This was done at the urging of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes of Connecticut, both operating massive gambling operations and both in favor of legalized online gambling that would reach more potential customers and keep up with the future of gaming.
Lawmakers ultimately decided that 2018 wasn’t the year to address online gambling or sports betting. There were too many “moving parts,” according to House Speaker Joseph Aresimowicz, and there wasn’t enough time to put forth and debate a comprehensive gambling expansion bill.
And the last chance to address the issue in 2018 was in the Connecticut special legislative session at the beginning of the summer, but that passed without action as well.
Sports betting legislation in CT is dead for the session, which ended late last night. Here’s to next session.
— Seth Young (@sethyoung) May 10, 2018
Shiny New Gambling Proposal for 2019
With the new year comes new hope. The desire for sports betting may be driving the effort, but the proposal prepared this month also includes internet gambling and keno.
Proposed Bill 17 is a bipartisan effort put forth by members of both houses of the Connecticut legislature. The Democrats co-sponsoring the legislation are Senators Catherine Osten and Steve Cassano, along with Representatives Kevin Ryan, Christine Conley, Emmett Riley, Joe de la Cruz, and Susan Johnson. From the state’s Republicans, Senators Heather Somers and Paul Formica join Representatives Doug Dubitsky, Mike France, and Holly Cheeseman on the proposal.
— CT Senate Democrats (@CTSenateDems) January 7, 2019
The statement of purpose for the bill notes that additional revenue and jobs from operating sports wagering, internet gambling, and internet keno will enhance the revenue the state receives from the tribal gambling entities in Connecticut. It will also ensure that the state’s gaming and tourism industries remain competitive while also protecting online wagering customers.
“An act authorizing sports wagering, internet gambling and internet keno” is addressed to the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly and requests the following amendments to current state statutes:
–To permit operators of casino gaming facilities in the state or on Indian lands to conduct sports wagering in person or through the internet, subject to new or amended agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut and pursuant to regulations or standards adopted or approved by the Commission of Consumer Protection.
— To permit operators of casino gaming facilities in the state or on Indian lands to conduct internet gambling within the state.
–To Permit the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to conduct keno games through the internet within the state pursuant to agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut.
–To require reasonable procedures and data security standards to block access to sports wagering and internet gambling for individuals under age twenty-one, internet keno for individuals under age eighteen, and individuals whose physical location cannot be verified within the state.
Obviously, there are more details to be included in a bill before it passes through committees and goes to any floor for a vote, but this can be done through committee hearings as the bill moves forward.
The proposal is currently in the Committee for Public Safety and Security.
Per the CT Post, one of the keys to pushing the new proposal forward will be passage through the aforementioned committee. While bill co-sponsor Osten is one of the top members of the committee, she shares that position with State Senator Dennis Bradley and Representative Joe Verrengia, neither of whom are on the same page with internet gambling and sports betting.
MGM has been lobbying to open a Bridgeport casino for years. A bill for an RFP cleared the House in 2018, but was never called in the Senate. The departure of three Democratic senators from the chamber could give the bill a more favorable outcome in 2019. https://t.co/WDfmN9e0nm
— Connecticut Post (@connpost) January 16, 2019
The first organizational meeting of the committee in 2019 showed that some discussions on the topic are necessary. Bradley has long supported a new casino in the state, and he may want online gambling and sports wagering for that property in the future. Verrengia does support comprehensive gambling expansion but wants all stakeholders included, while Osten firmly supports a tribes-only proposal as the current proposal is written.
All of them, however, agree that Governor Lamont will help get the final proposal over the finish line, in sharp contrast to the previous governor that was not engaged when necessary to properly draft legislation that would meet everyone’s needs.
Isn’t Sports Betting Already Legal…?
Technically, Connecticut legalized sports betting in 2017, more than a year before the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA and gave all states the authority to legislate and regulate sports wagering as they choose. However, the law was vague and depended upon lawmakers to clarify how sports betting should be handled in Connecticut once the federal law was out of the way.
Lawmakers did not do that in 2018.
And according to numerous sources, there are complications, the most outstanding of which is the right to sports betting seen as exclusively belonging to the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans. This leaves out other betting establishments and the lottery, both of which have expressed a desire to participate in a sports betting regime.
Governor Ned Lamont wants it. Most lawmakers want it. But all interested parties must come to some agreements before the details of a sports betting business for Connecticut can be detailed and into a bill for votes.
Connecticut Governor: “I just think sports betting and internet gambling is going to be part of America’s economy. And why should Connecticut get left behind?” https://t.co/wBK3eiRMDw
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) January 21, 2019