Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) revealed last night during his biennial budget address that his administration is actively negotiating with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The goal is to legalize sports betting and internet gaming.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribe hold a duopoly on casino gambling in Connecticut. The tribes respectively own and operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
Under their Class III gaming compacts with the state, the tribal casinos send 25 percent of their win from slot machines to the Hartford capital. That tax revenue has continuously declined over the past decade.
The state’s 25 percent slot share in 2006 was $433.6 million. Last year, it totaled $164.2 million. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state received $254.5 million in 2019 from tribal slot machines.
With Connecticut’s economy reeling from the coronavirus, and tax receipts down, Lamont is searching for new revenue streams. And sports betting and iGaming are attractive in the first-term governor’s eyes.
Lamont told the state legislature Wednesday night that Connecticut should legalize sports betting and online casinos with interactive slot machines and table games.
My administration has been in active negotiations with our tribal partners to bring the state’s gaming economy into the digital age, Lamont declared in his speech, titled Connecticut’s Comeback. “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 for the entire state.”
The Hartford Courant reports that Lamont and the two tribes are inching close to a deal to allow Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to conduct online gaming and operate retail and mobile sportsbooks. Lamont’s administration has revealed that it expects the state to receive more than $47 million in just the second year of the state having legal sports betting and online gaming.
Sports Betting, iGaming Rights
The negotiations between the tribes and Lamont are said to be focused on whether the Native Americans will receive exclusivity on the expanded gambling. The tribal gaming compacts dictate that their 25 percent slot share requirement would be negated if the state legalizes commercial gambling.
The tribes would still likely partner with an experienced online gaming operator should they receive exclusive sports betting and internet casino privileges. Foxwoods has already done so, announcing last December an agreement with DraftKings.
Connecticut ranks No. 29 in population. Despite its small population, the median household income in Connecticut was $78,833 in 2019, the last data supplied by the United States Census Bureau. That ranks fifth in the nation, behind only Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.
Another bonus is that Connecticut’s immediate neighbors do not currently have legal online gaming. Sports betting is legal and operational in Rhode Island and New York.