A legislative committee on Tuesday approved proposed state regulations for a new gambling market in Connecticut, a major step toward legalized sports wagering, online casino gambling and other new forms of betting in the state.
Connecticut now awaits the U.S. Department of the Interior's approval of changes to agreements between the state and its two federally recognized tribal nations, who play major roles in the state's gambling expansion plan.
After months of work, the state Department of Consumer Protection submitted the wide-ranging package of proposed rules to the General Assembly's Regulations Review Committee under a fast-tracked process. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont's administration and the tribes — the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans — have expressed a desire to have a legalized sports wagering system up and running by the time the regular NFL season kicks off on Sept. 9.
“The purpose of this regulation is to create a licensing structure and implement provisions for responsible gaming and data privacy protections in order to ensure consumer safety and gaming integrity for new gaming markets in our state,” DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull wrote in a letter to the committee.
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Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed legislation, which Lamont signed into law, allowing only the quasi-public Connecticut Lottery Corporation and the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegan — owners and operators of the Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun resorts — to operate in-person and online sports wagering.
“The passage of the regulations for sports wagering and online gaming is a significant step forward for Connecticut and our partners in this new marketplace," Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement Tuesday. "In working collaboratively with the Mohegan Tribe, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, and the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, Connecticut has crafted nation-leading legislation, which will position our state as a leader in this space and will provide an elevated user experience for eligible residents.
The tribes, which are also allowed under the new law to offer fantasy sports contests and online casino gambling, are still awaiting necessary federal approvals from the U.S. Department of the Interior to proposed changes in their existing gambling agreements with the state of Connecticut. The tribes have expressed optimism those approvals will happen before Sept. 9.
State lawmakers, who were limited in how much they could change the emergency regulation, expressed some concerns with the proposed rules. State Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said he was worried about individuals with joint accounts and whether one person could gamble the money away without their permission. Kissel, who voted against the regulations, questioned the need to rush the regulations to meet the NFL deadline.
Seagull said the legislators will have other opportunities in the future to make changes to the regulations.