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Sports Betting One Step Closer To Being Legal In Connecticut

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut could soon join states like Rhode Island in the legalized sports betting realm. This picture features a board of betting lines inside Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI.

Proposals that would expand gaming in Connecticut are on their way to the floor of the state legislature.

Lawmakers passed several bills Tuesday, ranging from legislation that would skirt federal approval to authorize the building of a casino in East Windsor, to blueprints for how sports betting could be adopted in the state.

Seven states already have legalized sports betting since a recent change in the federal law, and Connecticut could be next.

But that’s not what state Rep. Craig Fishbein (R-Cheshire, Wallingford) wants. He pointed out ways that gambling can be bad for bettors and the sports that they bet on, and then he voted ‘no’ during a Public Safety and Security Committee meeting at the Legislative Office Building.

“I don’t see this being of benefit to our state other than monetarily and I think that’s wrong,” Fishbein said.

But state Sen. Steve Cassano (D-Andover, Bolton, Glastonbury, Manchester) supports the bill exactly because the state can make money off of sports betting. Cassano brought up March Madness and how many locals are already gambling on the NCAA men's basketball tournament that comes to Hartford this week.

“Gambling is here,” Cassano said. “We’re not keeping something away. We’re not licensing something that already exists. We’re getting in on the action is what it comes down to.”

A chair of that committee has estimated sports betting could be a $30 million money-maker for the state by year three of implementation. That comes from a proposed 10 percent tax on gross revenue.

The bills would allow the Connecticut Lottery, the two tribes that currently host casino gaming in the state (the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes), and off-track betting facilities to operate sports betting.

Residents aged 21 or older would be able to bet through those operators in-person and online through mobile betting platforms.

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