Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont Signs Tribal Gaming Expansion Bill

Posted on: May 30, 2021, 01:05h. 

Last updated on: June 30, 2021, 09:35h.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has signed the gaming expansion package that recently passed the General Assembly. The legislation amends the Class III gaming compacts for the state’s two tribes to allow sports betting and online casino gambling. 

Connecticut sports betting online gaming Lamont
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signs legislation authorizing the state’s tribes to operate sports betting and online casinos. The amended Class III gaming compacts still need federal approval. (Image: Gov. Ned Lamont)

House Bill 6451 provides the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to operate sportsbooks — both retail and online — and iGaming with interactive slots and table games. 

The tribe will share 13.75 percent of its gross gaming revenue (GGR) from sports betting with the state. For its internet casinos, subsequent GGR will be subject to an 18 percent tax for the first five years after launch, and then increase to 20 percent for the next five years. 

I was proud to sign this landmark piece of legislation into law today,” Lamont explained. “Modernizing our gaming marketplace has been a long time coming, and I’m thankful for the partnerships we forged that helped make this happen.”

Along with the new tribal gaming rights, HB6451 allows the Connecticut Lottery to operate as many as 15 brick-and-mortar sports betting retail locations, and additionally operate a mobile sportsbook platform. 

Finally, the bill provides a licensing process for daily fantasy sports companies.

Federal Approval

HB6451 allows Lamont and the two federally recognized tribes to rework their Class III gaming compacts to include sports betting and online casinos. Their current casino revenue-sharing arrangement requires them to direct 25 percent of their slot machine GGR with the state.

The tribes own and operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Once the compacts are edited and signed by Lamont and the tribes, the documents will be sent to the US Department of the Interior. The federal agency has 45 days upon receipt of the compacts to reject or authorize the new terms.

Lamont told state residents concerned about problem gambling that the bill addresses such worries.   

“We’re taking problem gambling seriously, and that’s a piece of this bill as well,” Lamont explained. HB6451 requires that each tribe donate $500,000 annually to programs design to help those battling gambling disorders. 

Competitive Advantage

Casinos have greatly expanded in the US since Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun opened full gaming operations with slot machines and table games back in the 1990s. And as a result, the state’s slot tax money has been on a long decline.

The state’s 25 percent share has tumbled from $433.6 million in 2016 to $245.4 million in 2019. COVID-19 further hurt, as the tribal casinos voluntarily closed from mid-March until June 1. The state received just $164.2 million from slots last year. 

iGaming in states where it was legal amid the pandemic paid off greatly in helping to offset brick-and-mortar gaming losses. Connecticut’s two tribes will be better protected in the future against such a crisis. 

Internet gambling and sports betting also gives the tribes an upper hand on their competition in nearby Massachusetts. Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park cannot yet operate sports betting, nor iGaming.