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Former MLB, NBA Stars Push for Sports Gambling at Connecticut Capitol

Professional sports leagues are working hard to ensure states are prepared for the possibility that sports gambling could be authorized in the spring or summer of 2018.

The US Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case that could allow for sports wagering outside of Las Vegas, and many states are attempting to be ready for a rollout of regulations if and when the ruling is handed down.

With that in mind, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association sent high profile representatives to the Connecticut State Capitol Tuesday to make their case.

“You’ve got to make sure if this is going to be some commerce if you will there has to be some oversight,” said Al Leiter, a former pitcher for the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Florida Marlins, who currently works as an analyst for the MLB Network.

Leiter was joined pitching to lawmakers by Boston Celtics great Cedric Maxwell, as the two met with lawmakers, making their pitch on why the General Assembly should act now to be ready for sports wagering.

Maxwell, who had his numbered retired by the Celtics and won two NBA Championships, said there needs to be a governing body and regulators keeping an eye on the wagers and the leagues.

“You don’t want a black eye for the sport,” Maxwell said. “I think that’s the biggest thing why we’re here and we’re talking about now.”

Politically, coming up with regulations is expected to be a lay-up for the sports leagues, because members of both parties in the General Assembly support putting regulations in place for an industry that could be legalized whether they agree with it or not.

“It’s here. We need to regulate it,” said Rep. Vincent Candelora, (R – North Branford), a member of GOP leadership who has historically been against expansion of gambling efforts. “We need to address it. I don’t think the discussion should ever be around revenue. It should be around protecting the integrity of professional and amateur sports.”

Sports leagues have much to gain, as well. They would expect to earn up to one-quarter of one percent of every wager placed on league sporting events. For instance, that cut would be remitted to the NBA for every wager placed on every NBA game.

To that end, leagues are in agreement that it would be an easier regulatory landscape if the federal government developed a policy, rather than leaving it to the states.

“We’re going to have to monitor a lot of betting activity across states and across gaming operators and that’s going to be made a lot easier for us in a federal framework,” Morgan Sword with Major League Baseball said.

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