Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has proposed a measure in his 2022-23 budget that would give him the power to amend or agree new tribal gaming compacts, and legalize online betting and gaming.
Lamont’s proposal would give him the power to negotiate amendments to the compact with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Indians, signed in January 1993, and the agreement with the Mohegan Tribe, agreed in May 1994.
The tribes hold exclusive rights to operate gaming in Connecticut, with the Mashantucket Pequot operating Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the Mohegan Tribe running Mohegan Sun.
This expanded agreement would cover the operating of sports wagering, esports betting and daily fantasy contests, as well as online casino gaming and online keno. These would be available both on and off tribal lands.
The new agreements would come into force as soon as they were approved by the Secretary of the US Department of the Interior. Lamont estimates they could generate $47.3m in new state revenue by the states’ 2023 fiscal year, beginning 1 July 2023.
In a pre-recorded budget address Lamont explained that neighbouring states were moving ahead with sports betting and igaming.
“[Connecticut] should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction,” he said. “My administration has been in active negotiations with our tribal partners to bring the state’s gaming economy into the digital age.
“And I am submitting legislation which reflects what I believe to be the best bet in ending this stalemate of inaction in a way which is in the best interest for the entire state.”
The move has already been welcomed by Scientific Games. The supplier’s global head of government affairs and special initiatives Howard Glaser said it showed states “are starting to catch up to what their population is demanding”.
“Connecticut’s embrace of on-line gaming and lottery is a large step toward broader adoption of mobile gaming in the US,” Glaser explained. “Forty-four states now have land-based casino gaming and lotteries, and mobile gaming is the logical extension of those programs in a world going digital.
“The pandemic is accelerating the trend to online play. If states with traditional casinos and lotteries approve on-line gaming, they would see over $4bn in new revenue, in addition to sports betting, at a time when statehouses are under tremendous pressure to find new revenue.”
Lamont first announced his support for legal betting and igaming in his State of the State address in January this year. He listed it among the new sources of revenue to help Connecticut recover from the financial hit caused by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
In the wake of that address, a bipartisan bill was filled in the Connecticut Senate, that like Lamont’s proposal aims to renegotiate the state’s tribal compacts to expand legal gambling.
Senate Bill 146 would also authorize the Governor to renegotiate the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan compacts, and has been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Security.
The tribes are already well-placed to move online. Mohegan has rolled out legal betting and igaming in New Jersey – where it operates Resorts Casino Hotel – and Pennsylvania, as well as a deal in place with Kambi to launch betting in Connecticut when regulation permits.
The Mashantucket Pequot’s Foxwoods, meanwhile, struck a partnership with DraftKings in December 2020, covering online and retail wagering.