Connecticut‘s House of Representatives has approved gambling legislation that moves the southern New England state closer to legalizing sports betting and iGaming after in March Gov. Ned Lamont and the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes finally agreed to terms for a comprehensive gambling expansion plan.
Passed overwhelmingly in a 122-21 vote on Thursday, May 20, 2021, the measure, HB 6451, leads the Democratic governor to revise the state’s gaming compacts with the two federally recognized Native American tribes, which own and operate the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts Casino, that govern gambling.
The modification would allow the pair to offer online gambling, sports betting, and online fantasy contests for which the state would receive a share of the revenue generated while also giving the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CT Lottery) the right to operate 15 retail sports betting sites, most notably those located in Bridgeport and Hartford, in addition to online sports betting operations.
If passed in the upper house of the Connecticut General Assembly as expected, the bill, which Rep. Maria Horn, D-Salisbury, co-chair of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee said per AP News, is “the culmination of many, many years of work heading in many directions in Connecticut,” must also be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Interior, which could take between 60 and 90 days, before taking effect, according to the March report.
Further details include a tax rate of 18 percent on internet gambling for the first five years, with a 2 percent increase to 20 percent tacked on to that for at least the next five years, with an additional five-year option included, as well as a 13.75 percent tax on sports wagering and fantasy contests. The taxation is to reportedly generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for The Constitution State. Currently, the tribes contribute 25 percent of the gross slot machine revenues from their respective Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino properties each month to the state in exchange for exclusive rights to slot machines and commercial casino games.
Also commenting on the long-awaited gambling agreement, Chairman for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Rodney Butler (pictured) reportedly said in a statement that he was pleased lawmakers were finally voting on a sports wagering and internet gambling deal, which he has for years been urging the General Assembly to pass.
“For our Tribe, gaming is about much more than business; it is a means by which we rebuild our nation, educate our children, and take care of our elders,” Butler said. “Passage of this legislation will enable us to do just that, and more, for generations to come.”
East Windsor opposition:
The legislation, however, is not without opposition, as Rep. Tom Delnicki, R-South Windsor reportedly said the bill “is built on a broken deal and I will not be supporting it here,” according to the news agency.
State legislators from the East Windsor area voted against the agreement, which prevents the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation from building a new Class III facility in the township where it would directly compete with MGM Resorts International‘s Springfield casino that opened in neighboring Massachusetts in August 2018. Included in the legislation, the tribes would not be able to build their planned off-reservation tribal casino within 10 years of the new agreement.