Mashantucket Pequot Tribe Agrees to CT iGaming
Perhaps the most significant hurdle to passing online gambling legislation in Connecticut has been cleared. Earlier this week, Governor Ned Lamont revealed that a deal has been struck with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe for online gambling. This is great news as the tribe had recently opposed a deal with the Mohegan tribe.
Now that both tribes are on board, the state can work to finalize the legalization of real money online casinos, online poker, and sports betting in the state. There’s a solid chance we could see an online gambling launch by the end of the year.
Governor Strikes Deal With Mashantucket Pequot Tribe
We recently reported on the deal between Gov. Lamont and the Mohegan Tribe for expanded gambling in Connecticut. At that time, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe opposed the deal. One of the primary sticking points was the tribe wanted a lower tax rate than the state. A compromise was eventually struck that will see the tribe eventually get their way.
Under the deal, online casino gambling in CT will start with a tax rate of 18%. That rate will be good for the first five years. Afterward, the rate will rise to 20% for at least the next five years. Sports betting will be taxed at 13.75%.
Online gambling will be conducted through the CT Lottery and they will also handle licensing. They will off sub-licensing to state-licensed parimutuel operators in the state. The Lottery will also operate retail sports betting. They will open 15 retail betting sites along with an online betting website. Licenses will be for 10 years with an option for a five-year extension. Lastly, the state lottery can expand iLottery and Keno to include online draw options.
Speaking on the deal, Gov. Lamont stated, “Connecticut is on the cusp of providing a modern, technologically advanced gaming experience for our residents, which will be competitive with our neighboring states. It’s something all our neighbors are doing, something to bring cities and towns back to life real revenue for taxpayers.”
Connecticut Lottery was quoted by WTNH News 8 as stating, “The CLC has already contributed nearly $300 million to the general fund, and we are poised to continue delivering responsibility for the state through these additional revenue streams.”
Mashantucket Hopped On Board Once They Got What They Wanted
As you may remember from our previous report, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe had been opposed to the initial deal between Gov. Lamont and the Mohegan Tribe. According to Rodney Butler, Pequot Tribal Chair, “We had a fairly frank conversation about where we were at and we all refocused.” This led to the deal mentioned above.
When we reported on this before, we said that the Pequot Tribe would likely hop on board once they had their needs met. We applaud Gov. Lamont for taking the steps that some states, particularly California, do not seem to be willing to take.
However, one company is not in support of the new arrangement. Sportech, an online gaming and lottery services company servicing CT, spoke out regarding the deal. According to the company:
“Sportech supports expanded gaming in the State; however Federal and State law mandates a level playing field. Today’s announcement does not appear to offer that level playing field; Connecticut consumers will be deprived of a healthy competitive betting marketplace and the Connecticut jobs that Sportech supports will be at risk.
We continue our dialogue with the Administration in pursuing gaming expansion that does not contravene laws and discriminate against not only our employees, but all Connecticut consumers.”
Online Gambling Now Begins Legislative Process
Now that the biggest hurdle to gambling legislation is cleared, lawmakers can focus on passing iGaming legislation. There will likely be hearings on the matter before a legislative vote. Next, the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has to approve the deal between the governor and tribes. They have up to 90 days to give their approval. Finally, the CT State Department of Consumer Protection needs to approve the matter.
How long this process will take is anyone’s guess, but we estimate that the legislature will have the matter resolved by the end of this year’s session. Afterward, it is just a matter of getting games online. Our initial estimate is Fall or Winter 2021 for an initial launch, but we could see this roll over into Spring 2022.