Connecticut Sports Betting Deadline Set By Governor Dannel Malloy, Legislature Has Until End of Week

Posted on: August 6, 2018, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: August 6, 2018, 02:43h.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has asked the legislature to tell him by the end of the week whether state lawmakers are committed to moving on sports betting this year, but it isn’t yet clear whether there is an appetite for a special session on the issue within the legislature at all.

Dannel Malloy
Dannel Malloy, who leaves office on January 9, was upbeat about his sports betting negotiations with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, promising that “real action has taken place.” But will any action take place in the legislature this summer? (Image: WNPR)

Malloy wants to fast-track sports betting this summer in a bid to keep the state’s casino sector competitive while capturing “a portion of illegal gambling revenue” for the state.

The trouble is, before that can happen Malloy must negotiate new compacts with the state’s two tribal operators, the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots, who are eager to keep any future sports betting market all to themselves. Then, any agreement reached would ultimately need to be signed off by the DOI.

Governor Upbeat, Lawmakers Not So Much

On Thursday Malloy met with lawmakers to update them on the progress of compact negotiations and delivered an upbeat assessment.

“The bottom line is in the last few weeks real action has taken place,” Malloy assured the Connecticut Mirror after the one-hour closed-door meeting. “People have started to move in a direction where I think an agreement could ultimately be reached with respect to who could operate within our state, how they would operate within their state, what could be bet on, and the like.”

But legislative leaders were cagily non-committal when the Mirror asked whether they were prepared for action.

“That depends on the end result of the [negotiation] process,” said Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven).

“He was just bringing us up to speed,” shrugged Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven. “We’re still talking.”

Sports Betting Complex for Connecticut

The two tribal operators have argued that sports betting should be classed as a “casino game,” on which they hold exclusivity in the state. But lawmakers, including Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, have questioned the definition.

Malloy reiterated the tribes are “on the list of potential vendors” but he also wants to include Connecticut’s off-track betting facilities and maybe even Connecticut Lottery Corp.

Many lawmakers are concerned, though, that the tribes might withhold their revenue-share payments — worth some $204 million to the state — if they don’t get their way on sports betting. But such a move would also undermine the tribe’s resistance to MGM’s proposal to build a casino in Bridgeport, a motion that will resurface in 2018.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers simply believe that sports betting is too complex an issue to be railroaded through the legislature this summer.