A dispute over sports betting proposals in Connecticut intensified Thursday, as a Native American tribal chairman criticized Gov. Ned Lamont for supporting a plan the chairman said would put in jeopardy more than $250 million in gambling revenues the state receives each year from two tribal casinos.
Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler sent out a statement berating the Democratic governor for putting a new “take-it-or-leave-it proposal on the table, with the full understanding that it was unacceptable to the Tribes.”
The statement was in response to Lamont saying Tuesday that he supported a bill that would authorize the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, as well as the state lottery and existing off-track betting operators, to conduct sports wagering in Connecticut.
Butler has said the tribes believe they have exclusive rights to offer sports betting under their nearly 30-year-old gambling agreement with the state, which calls for the tribes to send the state 25% of slot machine revenues from their two southeastern Connecticut casinos.
Butler said Thursday that Lamont has talked about negotiating on sports betting, but has had little or no communication with the tribes over the past several months. He said the bill supported by Lamont would violate the tribes' gambling agreement and put at risk the more than $250 million in slot machine revenues the state receives each year.
Lamont's spokesman, Max Reiss, responded Thursday that a dueling sports wagering bill supported by Butler "is sweeping and would invite serious legal challenges from a host of competitors.”
That bill, supported by a coalition of lawmakers from eastern Connecticut and Bridgeport, would authorize only the two tribes to operate retail and online sports betting in Connecticut, as well as open new gambling establishments in Bridgeport and several other cities. A similar effort was proposed last year but hit a dead end.