onnecticut Gov. Ned Lamont included $50 million in revenue from new digital gambling platforms in his Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget released Wednesday, adding sports betting, iGaming and iLottery to the equation. This would need the legislature and Connecticut’s two tribal casinos to approve changes in the state’s gambling enterprises.
The governor, legislative leaders, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino now are close to an agreement to expand gambling to online and mobile sports betting, whose revenue is now more needed given the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our neighboring states are moving forward with sports betting and iGaming and Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction,” Lamont said in his budget address to the General Assembly, as reported by Hartford Courant. The $50 million in expected revenue for the fiscal year beginning July 2022 is a conservative estimate and will likely grow with added digital gaming, he said. However, no further details were offered in that sense.
Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwoods, said the governor’s revenue projection based on sports betting and digital gambling “shows a level of commitment.” Butler said the Lamont administration and casinos are “really, really close” in reaching an agreement on legislation. “We’re at the one-yard line. We just need to punt it in,” he said.
James Gessner Jr., chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, said Connecticut is poised this year to “modernize its gaming laws, realize significant new state revenue and grow our local economy, just as neighboring states are already doing.” Even as the tribes negotiate with Lamont, the money the governor budgeted in his spending plan is “very much achievable through an agreement with the tribal nations,” he said.
Lamont said his administration has been in “active negotiations” with the tribes “to bring the state’s gaming economy into the digital age.” He said he is submitting legislation that he believes is the “best bet in ending this stalemate of inaction.”
The bill submitted by Lamont states he has the authority to enter into amendments to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes’ existing gaming agreements with the state or new compacts with either or both of the tribes concerning “the operation of sports wagering, e-sports and daily fantasy contests both on and off tribal lands” as well as online casino gaming and online keno, The Day reports.
The tribes say their state compacts that have resulted in more than $8 billion in slot revenue to Connecticut since the early 1990s gives them exclusive rights to gambling. Commercial operators of casinos and sports betting are fighting efforts that would block them from competing for gambling business.