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Connecticut Bill Introduced for Legalizing Sports Betting

The state of Connecticut appears to be moving towards legalizing sports betting with a recent bill that was introduced on Aug. 1. The legalization of sports betting has been a hot topic in almost every state around the country, with a number of states set to launch sports betting this fall.

There was plenty of debate surrounding sports betting in Connecticut this spring, but nothing was done before the General Assembly went home for the summer in June. A bill surfaced on Aug. 1 that is calling for the legalization of sports betting and expanded gambling across the state, but a special session would have to be called if something were to get passed before the end of the year.

What the Bill Looks Like

The bill that was introduced on Aug. 1 deals mostly with online gaming across the state of Connecticut, but legalized sports betting would be included in any bill. Online/mobile sports betting, online poker, and the creation of an online lottery highlight the bill introduced last Wednesday. Currently, a pair of Indian tribes, Mohegan and Mashantucket, operate the casino and gaming industry in the state, and they would have to be willing to compromise before anything gets up and running.

Democratic Senator Cathy Osten from Sprague is the author of this 37-page bill that is still in the very early stages. The bill calls for a 10 percent tax on online gaming, and an eight percent tax for retail sports betting. Both of those numbers are extremely low compared to other states around the country that have legalized sports betting. There are no licensing fees associated with this bill, but they will likely be added after some debate.

Most of the bill centers around what types of online games would be allowed, with very little information about sports betting. Betting on high school sports would be outlawed with this new bill, but that’s about the only restrictions that have been made known. This is just the initial bill, and the hope is that more information will come to light after other conversations and discussions are had.

Indian Tribes Could Screw Things Up

The Indian tribes in the state of Connecticut have already made it known that they will not support this new legislation, and they are banding together to fight back. Currently, the two Indian tribes have exclusive rights to the gaming industry in the state, in exchange for a payment of 25 percent to the state each year. The Indian tribes don’t want to give up control over the gaming industry, and they aren’t in favor of sports betting coming in and taking away some of their profits. The Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes have already threatened litigation against the state of Connecticut over this new bill, even though it’s still in the very early stages.

Most of the states that have Indian tribes in charge of their casino industry have faced the same fight as they try to legalize sports betting. The Indian tribes aren’t willing to lose out on the revenue, and the state is trying to take back control of the industry. Other states have been able to come to an agreement, and the hope is that the same thing will happen in the state of Connecticut. This is something to keep an eye on as we close out 2019 and begin preparing for 2020.

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