After years of discussion and unsuccessful discussions with the state's two federally recognized tribal nations, a long-awaited gambling expansion measure passed the Connecticut Senate late Tuesday, bringing the state closer to ultimately allowing sports betting and internet wagering.
Shortly before midnight, the bill was approved by a bipartisan vote of 28 to 6. The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who own and operate Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun in southeastern Connecticut, negotiated an agreement with Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont in March. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week, and it now awaits Lamont’s signature.
It permits the governor to revise the state's gaming compacts with tribes, allowing both to offer sports betting, online gambling, and online fantasy sports in exchange for a part of the proceeds. Those updated compacts will still need to be authorized by the United States Department of Interior, which supporters hope will happen soon and in time for the NFL season. Connecticut will be able to catch up to neighboring states that have already legalized sports betting as a result of this.
The state’s gross revenue tax rate for internet gambling will be 18 percent for the first five years, then 20 percent for the next five, with the option to extend for another five years. Sports betting and fantasy contests will be taxed at a rate of 13.75 percent.
The bill also permits the quasi-public Connecticut Lottery Corporation to conduct online and retail sports betting at 15 locations, including ones in Hartford and Bridgeport.
State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, who has continuously opposed gambling expansion legislation, cautioned that permitting online gambling and sports betting would only increase the state’s gambling addiction problem, particularly among the younger generation who grew up with smartphones.
He encouraged his colleagues to enhance funds for gambling awareness and treatment, as well as perform a comprehensive review of the state’s effects from expanded gambling.