Rhode Is­land move could prod Con­necti­cut to OK sports bet­ting

Connecticut Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Em­i­lie Mun­son

Rhode Is­land this week ex­panded le­gal­ized sports bet­ting, paving the way for gam­blers to make wa­gers on­line. The move by Rhode Is­land caught the at­ten­tion of Con­necti­cut law­mak­ers, who are strug­gling over how to au­tho­rize gam­bling in their state.

“I think it is im­per­a­tive that any sports bet­ting bill in­cludes a mo­bile plat­form,” said Rep. Joe Ver­ren­gia, a West Hart­ford Demo­crat who chairs the Pub­lic Safety and Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee that over­sees gam­bling. “I would have pre­ferred to be fur­ther along in the process than we are to­day.”

Speaker of the House Joe Ares­i­mow­icz, D-Ber­lin, said Rhode Is­land’s vote to au­tho­rize app-based sports bet­ting puts a fire un­der Con­necti­cut’s Gen­eral As­sem­bly to pass its own leg­is­la­tion so res­i­dents don’t drive to Rhode Is­land to place their bets.

“We’d rather have them stay here in the state of Con­necti­cut, visit the city the of Hart­ford, New Haven, the tribes and be able to have the on­line plat­form (to sports wa­ger) po­ten­tially through the Lot­tery,” Ares­i­mow­icz said.

A slew of pro­pos­als on sports wa­ger­ing are be­fore the Con­necti­cut leg­is­la­ture, and casino in­ter­ests, the Lot­tery and off-track-bet­ting com­pa­nies are all lob­by­ing for a piece of the ac­tion.

Rhode Is­land is the only New Eng­land state that now of­fers le­gal sports bet­ting. The state’s new bill, passed by the leg­is­la­ture Tues­day and ex­pected to be signed by Gov. Gina Rai­mondo soon, could pro­vide one model to over­whelmed Con­necti­cut politi­cians.

The bill al­lows for the cre­ation of an app that peo­ple could use to ac­cess the sports bet­ting of­fer­ings at two Rhode Is­land casi­nos where peo­ple can cur­rently make bets in per­son. Any­one wa­ger­ing on the mo­bile app would have to be phys­i­cally in Rhode Is­land at the time of their bet.

Rhode Is­land le­gal­ized sports bet­ting in No­vem­ber 2018, fol­low­ing a U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing in May strik­ing down a fed­eral law that banned wa­ger­ing in most states.

Sev­eral Con­necti­cut Democrats said Wed­nes­day they did not want to fol­low Rhode Is­land’s in­cre­men­tal strat­egy of first au­tho­riz­ing sports bet­ting and then mov­ing it on­line, although such a move might ease con­cerns about in­flam­ing gam­bling ad­dic­tions with the im­me­di­acy of in­ter­net bet­ting.

Un­like Rhode Is­land’s com­mer­cial casi­nos, Con­necti­cut’s Fox­woods and Mo­he­gan Sun casi­nos are run by the Mashan­tucket Pe­quot and Mo­he­gan tribes un­der a 1992 com­pact with the state that trades ex­clu­siv­ity for a cut of the rev­enue. Tribal lead­ers told leg­is­la­tors in Fe­bru­ary they be­lieve sports wa­ger­ing is their ex­clu­sive right un­der the com­pact. They are also in on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the gov­er­nor over sev­eral gam­bling is­sues.

Sen. Cathy Osten, DSprague, whose dis­trict in­cludes the tribal na­tions, said Wed­nes­day she would sup­port on­line sports bet­ting as long as it in­cludes the tribes.

“I think we should do

what­ever we can to keep up with our sur­round­ing states so we can be com­pet­i­tive,” Osten said.

Rep. Fred Camillo, RGreen­wich, who sits on the com­mit­tee, said il­le­gal sports wa­ger­ing is hap­pen­ing now in Con­necti­cut, so he sup­ports le­gal­iz­ing it.

“As long we put aside money to fund ad­dic­tion coun­sel­ing ser­vices, I think it is OK,” he said.

Taxes on sports bets can be a source of rev­enue for the state. Rhode Is­land’s pro­posed bud­get for the fis­cal year that be­gins July 1 in­cludes $30 mil­lion from sports bet­ting, in­clud­ing $3 mil­lion from mo­bile gam­bling.

New Jer­sey, which le­gal­ized sports bet­ting in June, of­fers li­censes to casi­nos and race­tracks, who can run mul­ti­ple sports­books on­line and part­ner with ex­ter­nal brands. The state col­lected $12.7 mil­lion from sports bet­ting in Fe­bru­ary alone, the New Jer­sey at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice an­nounced Wed­nes­day. Four times the amount of money wa­gered at New Jer­sey re­tail lo­ca­tions was bet on­line in the state, data shows.

Ted Tay­lor, CEO of New Haven-based gam­bling com­pany Sportech, said he’d pre­fer a New Jerseystyle model in Con­necti­cut over Rhode Is­land’s more limited bet­ting plan, so con­sumers would have ac­cess to nu­mer­ous sports­books.

“Con­necti­cut might be slightly bet­ter served do­ing it dif­fer­ently to make sure that there is suf­fi­cient com­pe­ti­tion,” Tay­lor said, although he’d love ex­clu­sive mar­ket ac­cess he added.

In Rhode Is­land, sports bet­ting is reg­u­lated by the Lot­tery, although bets are placed at the casi­nos. Gam­ing firm IGT is the state’s sports bet­ting ser­vice provider.

On Fri­day, IGT and sports bet­ting ven­dors Sci­en­tific Games, In­tralot and Neopol­lard will present their ser­vices to some law­mak­ers and state of­fi­cials at the Con­necti­cut Lot­tery head­quar­ters. The Con­necti­cut Lot­tery hopes to fa­cil­i­tate sports bet­ting, not un­like the Rhode Is­land Lot­tery, and one bill be­fore the leg­is­la­ture would give the Lot­tery that right.

“The best way to bring all of sports bet­ting into the sun­light is to of­fer it on­line as well as in re­tail,” said Greg Smith, CEO of the Con­necti­cut Lot­tery.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.