Internet Sweepstakes Could Cost State Hundreds of Millions

By George Colli
|  Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014  |  Updated 11:26 PM EDT
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A casino official told legislators that failure to act on an Internet sweepstakes ban could violate the slot revenue agreement with the two tribal casinos in Connecticut.

A casino official told legislators that failure to act on an Internet sweepstakes ban could violate the slot revenue agreement with the two tribal casinos in Connecticut.

The Director of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission testified today that the state could lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars from slot reveneues if legislators do not pass a bill outlawing Internet sweepstakes.

James Meskill told the Public Safety Committee that the slot-style games violate their two-decade-old compact, which gives Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos exclusivity of all slot machine gambling in Connecticut. He added the games "would relieve the tribe from their ability to pay 25 percent" of the yearly revenue

Senate Bill 80, sponsored by State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, would ban internet sweepstakes cafes. Bartolomeo joined Mary Drexler, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, in calling on the ban because the unregulated games "prey" on the underprivileged and elderly, she said.

An NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters undercover investigation exposed three local business centers offering the games, the Mouse Pad Business Center and Tech Solutions in Enfield, the Bloomfield Business Center in Bloomfield, and Internet Connections in East Windsor.

In the month since, two of the businesses have been shut down following police raids. A third closed its doors.

No one showed up to speak in opposition to the bill. Representatives for the businesses did not return a request for comment.

Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane testified lending his support to the legislation.

"Over the years, I've seen there are gaps between the definition of gambling, promotional drawings and sweepstakes," said Kane, following his testimony. "This bill would fill in these gaps."

The Public Safety Committee is expected to vote on S.B. 80 by the end of the month, according to Bartolomeo.

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