Connecticut was one of the first states to hold public hearings on sports betting in 2018. During that hearing, Joe Verrengia (D-District 20), the chairman of the Public Safety and Security Committee, said, “What I’m not for is legislation that in some way, shape, or form would line the pockets of MLB, NBA, or any other major sports owners.”
Nearly a year later, the same committee and the same chairman will hold another sports betting public hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The hearing is expected to be a hot one, as Connecticut lawmakers have been struggling to find a way to work with the two local tribes who run the state’s casinos, the state lottery, and the pro leagues seeking an “integrity fee” and mandate to use “official league data.”
Political Support For Sports Betting
The political support in Connecticut is there for legal sports betting. Aside from Verrengia, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Senate President pro tempore Martin Looney are both on the record as supporting sports betting. The state has to be feeling more pressure to legalize with Rhode Island already having done so and both New Hampshire and Massachusetts having active sports betting legislation.
Tuesday’s hearing is predicated on a number of gaming bills. One of those bills, SB665 is extremely short; the entire text reads: “To establish competitive sports wagering on certain sporting events.”
SB17 is a bipartisan bill with sponsors from both the House and the Senate that would legalize mobile sports betting at the state’s two tribal casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
“If we’re going to have sports betting, we need to be all in,” Verrengia said on the CTScoreboard Podcast in early February. “And that certainly includes mobile.”
The Difference Between This Year And Last
One key difference this year compared to last is that Connecticut has a new governor. Former Governor Dannel Malloy was publicly opposed to sports betting. New Governor Ned Lamont is in support of sports betting, although he did not include sports betting revenue in his budget.
Connecticut’s main hurdle in legalizing sports betting is finding common ground with the tribes that run its casinos. Sports betting is not clearly addressed in the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, nor in the current tribal-state compacts in Connecticut.
The tribes contended last year that they have exclusive rights to offer sports betting.
Tuesday’s meeting will shed some light on what direction Connecticut is heading in.