The House took the first steps towards expanding gambling in Connecticut. The bill, which passed 122-21, formalizes the agreement announcement in March between Gov. Ned Lamont, the two federally-recognized tribal nations and the Connecticut Lottery.
“They can also do online sports betting in-person on the reservation. They can do fantasy contests,” Rep. Maria Horn said.
Horn, who co-chairs the Public Safety & Security Committee, said the two tribes will also be to do online casino games and online fantasy contests off-reservation.
“The lottery is also permitted to do online sports gaming, retail sports locations - 15 retail sports locations, including specifically one in Hartford and one in Bridgeport,” Horn said.
The state of Connecticut will get a cut of those gambling revenues.
“For iGaming, it’s 18 percent for the first five years and then 20%,” Horn said.
The state will get 13.75% tax rate on sports wagering.
There's questions about the fantasy portion of the bill. The Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association said it's slow to create a licensing scheme for fantasy sports and could result in the shutdown of fantasy sports through the NFL season.
There’s bipartisan support for the measure.
“I think it’s a great deal for the state of Connecticut as far as financial revenue. I think it’s a great deal for our partners in our Mashantucket tribe and our Mohegan tribe as well as the Connecticut Lottery,” Rep. Greg Howard said.
Howard, a Republican from North Stonington, said when New Jersey opened up online gaming and sports betting, they saw an increase in people going to the casinos.
“It’s driving the economy and driving tourism, which is a big part of our economy,” Howard said.
Some lawmakers expressed frustration that they would not be able to change the bill because it is a negotiated agreement.
“There is no flexibility on this actual bill. This is the bill,” Horn said.
And as far as timing is concerned, there’s still no clarity about how soon you can pick up your phone and place a bet.
“I want to thank the Connecticut House of Representatives for the careful consideration and bipartisan passage of legislation that will bring Connecticut’s gaming, lottery, and sports betting market into the future, positioning our state as a leader,” Governor Ned Lamont said in a statement.
“I also want to express my appreciation to the co-chairs of the Public Safety Committee, including State Representative Maria Horn, for their partnership as they worked with members of my administration to draft and move this legislation through the process. I look forward to this measure’s swift passage in the Senate so we can start the federal process of ensuring this legislation and agreement is authorized," he continued.
If the Senate passes the bill and the governor signs it, the next stop will be the Department of the Interior which has to sign off on the changes to the tribal compacts.
“That is one of the reasons why this has some urgency because we need to get that process moving as quickly as possible,” Horn said.