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The big handle: How the outcome of the Super Bowl could impact tax revenue

Foxwoods grand opening ceremony of the DraftKings Sportsbook new two-story space in the Great Cedar Casino that replaces the temporary location that premiered in September. December 08, 2021 in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
Joe Amon/Connecticut Public
Connecticut Public
Connecticut residents can legally bet on the Super Bowl this year as sports betting was legalized in the state four months ago. People will wager online and in-person at places like the DraftKings Sportsbook inside the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Super Bowl LVI is expected to be the game with the most dollars wagered ever. It’s also the first Super Bowl residents of Connecticut can bet on since sports wagering launched in the state

But that doesn’t mean places that take your bet will see any profits. Or that the state of Connecticut will actually get to collect tax revenue.

The last time the Los Angeles Rams went to the Super Bowl, it was 2019, when they lost against the New England Patriots. That was bad news for Rhode Island, where they had just legalized sports betting. 77 percent of the bets came in on the Pats, leaving betting operators to shell out a big pay-out. It represented a $2.4 million loss for the state and it’s betting partner Twin River Casino.

This year, some early numbers show that one local sportsbook would fare better if the Rams won this time around. It’s all in how bets are placed and right now, two different types of bets are coming into DraftKings from Connecticut customers in a big way for the Rams opponent: the Cincinnati Bengals.

“There is a very clear betting favorite and that is the Bengals,” said Bryan Hayes, the senior vice president of gaming operations for the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

DraftKings partners with Hayes and the tribal nation that runs Foxwoods to operate sports betting in Connecticut. If Hayes’ outfit is going to make money on Sunday, it needs the betting favorite to lose.

“I don’t think a lot of people do realize that sports betting operations can lose money depending on who our guests and players are betting on,” Hayes said.

The American Gaming Association says Americans are going to bet $7.6 billion on Super Bowl LVI. That doesn’t mean vendors and tax collectors in Connecticut are getting some portion of that money. Bettors have to lose in order for the house–and by extension the state–to win. Connecticut gets a 13.75 percent cut of revenue generated from sports betting in the state.

“There really isn’t a whole lot that you can do to prepare for it,” Hayes said. “Guests are going to come in and they’re going to wager on who they want to wager on. But, that is generally managed through the lines that you’re offering: the spread and the lines move depending on where guests are betting.”

Hayes and the tribal nation also need the Bengals to lose by more than four points. DraftKings reported that as of Friday, 70 percent of moneyline bets and 63 percent of bets on point spreads have been placed on the Bengals.

But Andrew Walter, the director of legal and business affairs for the Connecticut Lottery Corporation’s sports betting division, cautions against looking at preliminary numbers.

“I’ve learned from our partner that historically really Saturday and especially Sunday in those few hours before kickoff, that’s when the overwhelming majority of the bets are going to come in,” Walter said. “At this point, it’s premature and I wouldn’t even know who to say that we would want to win from a sportsbook perspective.”

Figures are in flux. But the early numbers are actually different for Rush Street Interactive. That’s a vendor that partners with Walter and the Connecticut Lottery. And if they don’t change course, a Rams victory could be tough on that book and state revenue generated from it. That’s especially if it’s a Rams victory in a close game. Early numbers for Rush Street Interactive show that while point spread bets are mostly being placed on the Bengals, the money for money line bets is actually coming in for the Rams.

So, a Rams win, coupled with Cincinnati losing by less than four, could mean a one-two punch to what the lottery gives back to the state coffers.

Walter, the Connecticut Lottery representative, said that if the final numbers show a revenue loss, it’s not all bad.

“Even if we do lose money on this one, single football game,” Walter said, “I think there’s this long game that we’re playing which is, let’s introduce people to this new product.”

The lottery, through its SugarHouse CT sports betting platform, is running a campaign to get new customers. As part of the campaign, the operator is offering new customers a $500 risk-free bet. More customers means more chances for the house to win during another busy betting event -- the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournaments.

If sports betting and reporting on the subject triggers you, there’s a way to get help. You can call the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling at 1-888-789-7777 or text “CTGAMB” to 53342. More information is also available at https://ccpg.org/.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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