Connecticut has consistently been an early adopter when it comes to sports betting. Last year, Connecticut passed legislation regulating sports betting if the federal prohibition is overturned through court decision or legislation. Lawmakers are now revisiting the issue as they look to get ahead of a Supreme Court decision that is anticipated to be delivered within the next few months.
The bill that was passed last year was more of a placeholder than anything, however, and more work needs to be done. Last year’s bill fell short of legalizing sports betting in Connecticut and instead tasked the Commissioner of Consumer Protection with drafting a regulatory framework in case sports betting is repealed at the federal level and if it is determined Connecticut law permits sports betting.
That bill is worded as follows:
The Commissioner of Consumer Protection shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes, to regulate wagering on sporting events to the extent permitted by state and federal law.
Lawmakers are now meeting to get Connecticut up to speed and ready to go as quickly as possible in the event the Supreme Court strikes down the federal law preventing states from legalizing sports betting.
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter made it clear that Connecticut wants to waste no time in between a possible favorable decision and the first licensed sportsbooks accepting wagers from residents. Here’s what he said this week:
“Connecticut should be ready to act as soon as the Supreme Court decision is handed down. Based on the oral arguments before the court late last year, it seems entirely possible that the federal ban on sports betting will be overturned, and we want to be competitive with other states.”
Prominent House Democratic leaders have stated they anticipate being able to get everything done that needs to be done legislatively by the end of the 2018 General Assembly session on 9 May.
Connecticut Not Embracing Sports Integrity Fee
The sports integrity fee being proposed by the major sports leagues is not going over well these days. The fee, which calls for 1% of all sports betting handle to be routed to the sports leagues, is akin to taxing net revenues at 20 to 25%. The sports leagues may be pushing a little too hard for a little too much, and lawmakers in Connecticut are wise to the game.
The Connecticut Public Safety and Security Committee recently held an informational hearing to discuss sports betting. There, lawmakers met with NBA and MLB executives to discuss the future of sports betting in Connecticut.
During that hearing, lawmakers asked probing questions that made it clear lawmakers are up to date on sports betting. Representative Joe Verrengia was particularly prickly as he noted the true cost of the integrity fee and asked what the leagues needed to do with all that money. Verrengia also said he is not in favor of any “legislation that in some way, shape or form would line the pockets” of the professional sports leagues owners.