CT Governor Seeks Legal Sports Betting

Following the US Supreme Court’s decision to side with New Jersey and issue an opinion that a ban on sports betting is unconstitutional, the ground has been laid for many states to decide on the fate of their sports betting legislation.

Connecticut is one such state where it is expected that legal sports betting legislation will be adopted. The question is whether the state may have missed the mark and, due to unsuccessful efforts to push for sports betting in the last session, end up near the back of the race.

On May 9th, the Connecticut legislative session ended without the passing of a bill that would push sports betting or online gambling far enough.  It was definitely bad timing for the state because a few days later, the US Supreme Court’s decision was published and the country went into a flurry of preparations to welcome in new sports betting laws in any state that was ready to do so.

Some states had had the foresight to line up legislation so that if and when the Supreme Court ruled in New Jersey’s favor, their laws would be ready to go live, with as little delay as possible. These are the states that recognize that the huge financial potential there is to be had by allowing their population to wager on sports betting.  Unfortunately, Connecticut was not able to get to that point before its legislative session ended.

There were too many obstacles in the way of Connecticut sports betting legislation this year, especially the disagreement between the tribes and other interest parties (namely off track betting facilities and the lottery). The tribes are insistent that if sports betting is legalized, their tribal compacts should cover this form of entertainment. The other side, however, strongly disagrees, and they are backed by the Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen who issued an opinion stating that “sports betting is not listed as an authorized game”.

“The exclusion of sports betting from the specific list of authorized games is compelling evidence that the Compacts do not presently authorize it,” he said.

Now, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy wants to introduce a special session of the legislature to address the issue of legal sports betting.  In a statement made this week, Malloy said: “It is incumbent on us to consider the question of legalized sports betting in a thoughtful way that … fully realizes the economic potential that this opportunity provides.”

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