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Connecticut, Tribal Nations Usher In Legalized Sports Betting

Joe Amon/Connecticut Public
Connecticut Public
Gov. Ned Lamont places the first bet as sports betting operators allowed patrons to place wagers during a soft launch at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut, Sept. 30, 2021.

Connecticut residents can now bet on sports.

Sports betting began with a retail rollout at the Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun casinos Thursday.

At Foxwoods, guests celebrating were greeted by a group of Mashantucket Pequot Native Americans who perform at major community events: the Yootay drummers.

Their drumbeat is the heartbeat of the community, said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates Foxwoods. He also said that sports betting -- and the money his tribe makes from it -- are about community.

“It’s economic success that allows us to reinvest in our community -- to grow [as] a nation, to strengthen as a nation,” Butler said.

Butler has said the tribe could gross $400 million a year in revenue by year five or six of sports betting. He said net revenues will directly benefit his people in ways like funding health and retirement programs for tribal elders.

Laurie Eleazer and her husband, George, members of the tribal nation, came to the event in New England Patriots gear. The Eleazers put $25 on the underdog Pats in Sunday’s big reunion game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“We came here to support this huge, momentous milestone for us,” Eleazer said. “Getting sports betting, getting people in the doors of Foxwoods to explore the amenities is really going to bring great revenue.”

Gov. Ned Lamont said sports betting could net the state $100 million annually by year four or five.

“What it means for our state is we reinvent ourselves,” Lamont said. “What it means in terms of revenues that can be invested back in the state is incredibly important.”

Lamont celebrated the sports betting launch with wagers placed at each casino.

“This is really fun for me because I am a bit of a sports junkie, and now there’s a little more edge in the game,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”

At Foxwoods, he bet $20 on the New York Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Sports betting begins in Connecticut with a retail-only launch. Joining the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans is the Connecticut Lottery, a third operator. It’s not taking bets yet, but Lamont said it might start next week.

And then there’s mobile betting, which Butler said could come in the next week or two.

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