Why Connecticut Could Be The Next Big Sports Betting Destination

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New Jersey will have another day in court, as it continues the fight to bring legal sports betting to the Garden State.

After months of deliberation, the Supreme Court has decided to grant cert in New Jersey’s sports betting case. SCOTUS will rule if the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) is constitutional. If SCOTUS strikes it down, there will be sweeping ramifications.

At stake for New Jersey is the opportunity to legalize sports betting. It isn’t the only state with some skin in the game though.

Seven states introduced legislation in 2017 that would legalize sports betting within their borders. The legislation in three of those states — Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland — ties legalization to changes at the federal level. More specifically, changes like SCOTUS deeming PASPA unconstitutional.

Suffice it to say, Connecticut and several other states will be interested observers as the New Jersey case plays out. As Dustin Gouker pointed out, other states would be wise to follow Connecticut’s lead and get out in front of sports betting.

Connecticut’s push for legal sports betting

Connecticut is on the precipice of turning its sports betting legislation into law.

In early June, Connecticut passed a gaming reform package that included the legalization of sports betting contingent on changes at the federal level. Governor Dan Malloy received the bill this week. While hasn’t signed it yet, it’s likely he will. Malloy recently signed legislation authorizing a third casino in East Windsor.

Connecticut’s sports betting bill

Legal sports betting will only come to Connecticut if SCOTUS repeals PASPA or the legislature changes the law.

Furthermore, the bill’s language is vague and perfunctory. The state would have to pass some type of companion legislation designating how and where sports betting would be legalized. It would also need to establish tax rates.

The bill reads:

“The Commissioner of Consumer Protection shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes, to regulate wagering on sporting events to the extent permitted by state and federal law.”

Connecticut tribes fully support legal sports betting

According to Connecticut newspaper The Day, both of the state’s gaming tribes, the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots, are very supportive of legal sports betting coming to the Nutmeg State. Mohegan Tribe Chairman Kevin Brown elaborated in a statement:

“We are pleased the Supreme Court has agreed that it should hear this important case. And we are hopeful [the justices’] decision will provide further encouragement for Congress to take the steps necessary to create a safe and regulated sports wagering marketplace in the United States that will protect the players and the sports themselves.”

“We hope New Jersey’s case has a favorable outcome,” said Mashantucket Tribe Director of Communications Lori Potter in The Day. “As gaming becomes increasingly competitive throughout our region, sports betting is a lucrative opportunity that would generate hundreds of millions in much-needed tax revenue for the state of Connecticut as well as tribal governments.”

Sports wagering companies also have a vested interest

Speaking to the Connecticut Mirror, Ted Taylor, the president of pari-mutuel wagering company Sportech in Connecticut said “It’s a business that we’re in, and I think the state should be looking at it very carefully.”

With so much support among stakeholders, and with a law likely to be in place if New Jersey wins on appeal, Connecticut could be one of the next states to offer legal sports betting.

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Steve Ruddock

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Steve Ruddock is an avid poker player and a veteran member of the gaming media. His primary focus is on the regulated US online casino and poker markets. He writes for numerous online and print publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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