Connecticut Braces for Sports Betting Battle

As a decision regarding the legalization of federal sports betting in the United States becomes imminent, battle lines are being drawn in Connecticut over the issue. The tribal operators of two of the state’s casinos, the Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun have argued that they have exclusive rights to operate sports betting in Connecticut if the Supreme Court overturns the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

The Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan tribes argue in letters sent to lawmakers that the revenue sharing agreements that they have in place with the state also pertain to sports betting. The tribes currently pay 25% of their video slot machine revenue from their casino resorts to state coffers.

In its letter penned over the weekend, the Mashantucket Pequot tribe pointed out that should sports betting be legalized by Connecticut, it would more than likely be made up of a “video facsimile or video game of chance.”

“If the legislature authorizes sports betting in a manner that constitutes a video facsimile or video game of chance, such an authorization would lift the moratorium under the tribal-state gaming compacts,” notes the letter.

It doesn’t seem as if lawmakers have been convinced by the tribes’ arguments, and House Majority Leader Matthew Ritter, as well as House Speaker Joseph Aresimowicz, went so far as to say on Monday that it seems highly unlikely that the state would grant exclusive sports betting rights to the tribes.

Ritter said in a press interview this morning: “I’ve heard and read better legal arguments than that one.”

What is worrying, however, is that the Mohegan Attorney General Helga Woods has threatened that if sports betting is authorized across the state, the tribe will see it as a violation of the compacts that it has with Connecticut. As such, this could end the $250 million annual slot payments made to the state by the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos.

“If the state authorizes video facsimile gaming, the exclusivity provisions of the compact would be violated and our obligations to make the slot contributions cease,” wrote Woods.

View Your State