Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has followed his New York counterpart Andrew Cuomo in voicing his support for legal sports betting and online gambling.
Giving his State of the State address yesterday (6 January), Lamont said 2020 had been one of the “most challenging and humbling” years of his life, due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This, he said, had prompted the state to work closely with neighbours such as Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York to coordinate their response to the crisis.
Lamont pledged to continue to leverage these relationships as part of Connecticut’s recovery from the pandemic.
He said Connecticut would work with its neighboring states and tribal partners on a path forward to “modernize gaming”, as well as working in the legislature to legalize marijuana.
“Sports betting, internet gaming, and legalized marijuana are happening all around us,” Lamont added. “Let’s not surrender these opportunities to out-of-state markets or even worse, underground markets.”
His pledge to expand the state’s gambling market comes amid reports that Governor Andrew Cuomo is preparing to relax his stance against mobile wagering in neighbouring New York.
Cuomo had previously insisted that a constitutional amendment was required to facilitate the launch of mobile betting. However, to generate new tax revenue for the state, he is expected to set out legalization as a key priority when he delivers his State of the State address next week.
Gambling in Connecticut is currently offered exclusively by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation-owned Foxwoods and Mohegan Tribe’s Mohegan Sun, meaning any legislation must be agreed with the tribes’ support.
A bill filed in 2020 by Representative Joseph Gresko aimed to facilitate this, allowing each operator to offer mobile wagering throughout the state, and land-based betting on tribal lands. However it failed to progress through the legislature, as did rival proposals that would have also allowed for the construction of a new tribal casino.
The shut-down of the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods venues as a result of Covid-19 then prompted lawmakers to call for the tribes to be given temporary authorization to offer online gambling through an executive order.
This was requested by the chief elected officials and chief executive officers of the 22 municipal members of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG). However, Lamont rejected this request.
Each tribe has already partnered operators in anticipation of gambling expansion in the state. In December last year, Foxwoods struck an agreement to launch online and mobile wagering in partnership with DraftKings when regulation permits, while Mohegan Sun is already active in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, partnered with Unibet operator Kindred Group.