Connecticut Could Have Sports Betting by Football Season

Connecticut announced a deal with the state’s two casino-operating Indian tribes that could put sports betting in place by the start of the NFL season later this year.

Governor Ned Lamont said Thursday that he’d reached agreements with the Mashantucket Pequots, who operate the Foxwoods casino, and the Mohegans, who have the Mohegan Sun casino. The tribes will have the exclusive right to offer online games, such as blackjack, and they’ll share the ability to offer sports betting with the state lottery.

The state legislature will consider the expansion as part of its budget debate in May and June, according to David Lehman, commissioner of economic development for the state. If approved, the terms would go to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which must review new contracts with the tribes.

The state will receive a tax rate of 18% on internet casino wagers and 13.75% on sports betting, under contracts that last as long as 15 years. The fifth-wealthiest state by per capita income is budgeting $50 million in tax revenue from the new wagering next fiscal year.

The agreement means there won’t be a large number of sports-betting operators in the state, as there are in New Jersey, for example. Lehman, who helped negotiate the deals, said he studied how other states did it and concluded three was a good number to create competition for consumers. The tribes got control of online gambling because of longstanding agreements with the state regarding their casinos, he said.

The Mashantucket Pequots signed a deal with DraftKings Inc. in December to be its sports betting partner in Connecticut when such wagering is legalized.

The state lottery will also be able to partner with a third party to offer sports betting. It will be able to operate 15 physical sports-betting sites around the state.

The deal is partly good news for casino operators in Massachusetts, such as MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming Inc., as the tribes have agreed to drop plans to build a new resort north of Hartford, Connecticut.

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