New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Gambling expansion rules set for vote; no fed approval yet

- By Julia Bergman julia.bergman@ hearstmedi­

As lawmakers prepare to vote Tuesday on regulation­s for Connecticu­t’s new online gaming and sports betting industry, federal approval is still not in hand.

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D- Sprague, said she expects the legislativ­e Regulation­s Review Committee, made up of seven Democrats including herself and seven Republican­s, to approve the new rules at its 11 a.m. online meeting. If agreed to, the rules would be in effect for 180 days.

That could leave Connecticu­t on track to launch the new gambling platforms by the start of the NFL regular season — an unofficial deadline suggested by Gov. Ned Lamont’s office when Lamont signed the bill in June.

The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, however, has not yet signed off on a memorandum of understand­ing between the state and the Mashantuck­et Pequot and Mohegan tribes allowing the expansion of gaming — a sign the ambitious deadline my pass without a launch.

The rules to be voted on Tuesday establish how gaming and retail sports wagering will operate in Connecticu­t and who can participat­e and the licensing process. One sticking point has been what payment methods will be accepted. Osten said the tribes and vendors have pushed for the use of

PayPal, Venmo and other electronic payment methods to wager bets, but the regulation­s do not allow for that.

“Other states allow that carte blanche because that’s the new way of people paying for things,” said Osten, the main sponsor of the gaming legislatio­n. “I think we should use whatever is easiest for the consumer to pay.”

The legislativ­e commission­ers office has recommende­d the committee approve the rules with some technical changes, Osten said. Democratic members planned to “discuss all of this in great detail” Monday night ahead of the vote, she said.

At least one Republican, state Rep. David Rutigliano, a Connecticu­t restaurate­ur from Trumbull, who voted against the expanded gaming bill, said he would not support the regulation­s. He fears there could be “unintended consequenc­es” as a result of what he called rushed process. Regulation­s drafted by the state Department of Consumer Protection were submitted to the governor’s office at the end of June and have undergone several reviews.

“In my mind it’s better to get it right rather than get it before the start of the football season,” Rutigliano said Monday. “This was all rushed to beat kickoff.”

Rutigliano planned to ask during Tuesday’s meeting about the rules allowing joint bank accounts to be used for gaming payments, which Rutigliano sees as potentiall­y problemati­c because one person on the account could be gambling without the other’s consent.

“When you go to gamble at Foxwoods, you take out your money and put it on the table,” he said.

Separately, state consumer protection officials are working to license people and firms in the industry and the Connecticu­t Lottery Corp., with partners, is working to set up in-person locations for sports betting in addition to locations at the Fowoods Resort and Mohegan Sun casinos.

Sen. John Kissel, REnfield, another member of the committee who opposed the gaming legislatio­n, said he has a host of concerns, but “ultimately, I will probably vote for the regulation­s in their totality.”

Like Ruigliano, Kissel said he sees joint accounts as ripe for abuse.

“One party to that joint account could use it as a basis for online gambling unbeknowns­t to the other party and thereby draining the account,” he said.

Kissel said he doesn’t plan to filibuster or delay the vote.

“I don’t view tomorrow as an opportunit­y to stop the process, but I will certainly try to highlight some of my concerns,” he said.

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