n Thursday, a bill Thursday that could launch Connecticut’s own sports betting industry was approved by the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and protect state taxpayers from new federal tax changes.
The committee voted 31-16 to endorse a bill to establish a regulatory framework for sports gaming. A case that could legalize sports betting in all 50 states is currently before the Supreme Court.
The state’s casinos, licensed off-track betting facilities and the Connecticut Lottery Corporation would be authorized to offer sports betting. The Department of Consumer Protection also would have the authority to license new providers.
“If the Supreme Court’s going to allow states to do it, we can either choose to participate or not,” said Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, the committee’s House chairman and a supporter of the bill. “And if other states around us are going to participate and realize some revenue, I think it would be a missed opportunity for Connecticut.”
“This stuff is happening. It will always happen,” said Sen. John Fonfara of Hartford, the Senate Democratic chair of finance and another supporter of the bill. “If people want to legalize it as opposed to doing it illegally, I’m not offended.”
Sen. L. Scott Frantz of Greenwich, the committee’s Senate Republican chair, opposed the measure, saying, “Anything having to do with gambling, I don’t approve of.”
The measure also would authorize the lottery to begin selling tickets online, which analysts say would provide the state with an extra $700,000 in revenue next fiscal year, and $2.2 million by 2019-20. The lottery also would be required to transfer an extra $100,000 per year to support treatment services for chronic gamblers.
The finance committee also overwhelmingly adopted a measure aimed at protecting Connecticut households and businesses that may face higher federal taxes under the tax changes passed earlier this year by Congress.
One component of the bill would allow municipalities to create charitable organizations to support local services, offering property tax credits in exchange. The rationale behind the bill is that charitable contributions are still deductible under the new federal tax law, but local property taxes are not.