onnecticut Governor Ned Lamont opened the door to bringing legalized sports betting to the state when he discussed the issue with representatives of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who operate two large casinos in the southeast.
The issue of sports betting was once the heart of topical conversation among legislators in Connecticut but after failing to agree on a bill, lawmakers fell by the wayside. But with Gov. Lamont’s discussion with two powerful tribal groups in the state, wagering is now a strong possibility to happen in 2020.
“I had a good meeting with the (tribal) leaders, and I think we’re moving towards places where we can reach agreement,” Lamont told the assembled media last Wednesday at the state Capitol, as reported by Courant. “Look, the rest of the country and all our neighboring states are working hard on sports betting, iLottery and some of the other things that we need to do to make us competitive in this growing economy. I want to do that in association with the tribes. We’re doing that in collaboration and doing it in a way that mitigates the risk of a lawsuit.”
Gov. Lamont’s office is signaling that he would like an agreement among lawmakers ratified by the state’s General Assembly that begins in early February. “I’d like a global agreement,” Lamont told reporters. “I’d like to solve everything for world peace. But in the meantime, I’m going to take what I can get.”
The massive agreement on everything from casinos in East Windsor and Bridgeport - along with other issues - seems to be on hold at the moment.
“Let’s keep it simple,'' Lamont said. "Right now, the iLottery is important for us. It’s one of the things we had in mind when it came to how we can subsidize community college and move toward debt-free community college. Sports betting, I think, is something where I think we can reach broad agreement going forward.’’
Lamont declined to say that he saw “wiggle room’’ in which the tribes would bend from their long-held position that they have the exclusive rights to sports betting. “I wouldn’t say wiggle room,'' he said. "What I would say is everybody wants to reach a conclusion. This is another one of these issues that have lingered in this state for many, many years, and I’m trying to solve some problems.’’
In 2017, Connecticut lawmakers said they were far ahead of other states in laying the groundwork to prepare for sports betting. A representative from Major League Baseball said in April 2018 that Connecticut had the chance to pass model legislation that would be emulated by other states. In that month, former New York Mets star pitcher Al Leiter and Boston Celtics star Cornbread Maxwell came to the state Capitol to tout the benefits of sports betting.