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Responsible Gaming Exec 'Nervous' State Hasn't Called Yet On Sports Betting

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public
A file photo of Diana Goode, executive director of Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling taken in 2019. While she's confident CCPG will get money to address problem gambling, she's nervous funding hasn't been proposed yet.

Stakeholders in Connecticut’s gaming expansion are waiting in anticipation as the state tries to work out an agreement with a second tribal nation on sports betting and iGaming. And one of those stakeholders hopes the state will not forget about gamblers who may be hurt by the plan to put a way to bet in everyone’s pocket.

On Wednesday, a group of eastern Connecticut lawmakers sided with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in its attempt to get the governor’s office to reduce the cut of revenue it’s seeking -- one day after the state announced a deal with the Mohegan Tribal Nation.

Advocates for problem gambling are also deeply concerned about the terms of the deal. Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, said she wants the state to dedicate between 1% and 3% of any new revenue to efforts like hers.

“A number of the bills introduced didn’t say anything about funding for responsible gambling, and even though we’ve been able to talk to a lot of the legislators and they assure us that any final bill will include funding for responsible gambling, it still makes us really nervous,” Goode said.

David Lehman, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, is one of the people representing the governor in gaming negotiations. He said problem gambling hasn’t been extensively discussed.

“We agree that needs to be part of the comprehensive legislation when it’s done, but at this point there’s not a negotiation around that point, but we understand the importance of it,” Lehman said.

Goode would devote any portion of the expanded gaming revenue CCPG gets to message responsible gaming at places where people bet. One thing she’s learned in this year’s long struggle to enact new gambling legislation is that when it comes to mobile activity, problem gambling organizations need to work with licensed operators at the ground level.

Slot machines and money lines potentially being accessible on a smartphone dial up the need for effective problem gambling services.

“We would like to be at the table in the development stage of any of the online software that’s going to happen in Connecticut so that [responsible gaming] messaging can be part of that development, not stuck in later,” Goode said.

An older legislative proposal had the amount of state revenue from expanded gaming devoted to responsible gambling pegged at 2%.

If you read any of Frankie Graziano’s previous biographies, they’d be all about his passion for sports. But times change – and he’s a family man now.

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