Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is certain that opening the state’s gambling market will bring a lot of much-needed financial relief. The idea of being able to capitalize on the revenue offered by sports gambling and online gaming has him seeing huge dollar signs, but, unfortunately, his hands are tied. As has been the case in other states in the same situation, Connecticut has to first get past tribal compacts before increasing its gambling market, and this has repeatedly proven to be a very difficult task. However, in an update provided by Lamont Wednesday, progress seems to be taking place.
Lamont explained during a budget address two days ago that he and his administration are busy working with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes in order to try to bring more gambling options to the state. He indicated that progress is being made, but didn’t explain how far along the negotiations are. If he could, Lamont would already have online sportsbooks and casinos up and running, but convincing the tribes to agree to the changes is problematic.
Lamont asserted during his address, “Our neighboring states are moving forward with sports betting and [iGaming], and Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction. 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 [of] the entire state.”
Two years ago, Lamont tried to get the tribes to agree to put a new joint casino project in the city of Bridgeport, not in East Windsor where they were headed. To entice them, he offered to throw in sports gambling and iGaming, but the tribes rejected the idea, suggesting that they aren’t interested in either activity. However, as 2020 brought massive revenue shortages because of COVID-19, the two tribes have shown that they are now more amenable to the idea. Casinos operated by the tribes saw significant losses last year and have already backed off the new East Windsor property idea.
The Hartford Courant points out that Lamont and the tribes are apparently closing in on a deal that would bring sports gambling and iGaming to the state. However, exclusivity is still the primary source of contention, with current compacts stipulating that the tribes wouldn’t have to give up 25% of their slot revenue should the state legalize any type of commercial gambling. As a result, the tribes have an Ace up their sleeve and can control the destiny of Connecticut’s gambling market.