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Sports Betting & Tribal Gaming: Connecticut Works On a Solution

When the US Supreme Court put the decision to legalize sports betting in the hands of the States, it opened a Pandora’s Box of legal and political challenges. States must now figure out everything from how to appease professional sports leagues to how tribal gaming interests fit into the picture.

That’s the issue they’re currently dealing with in Connecticut where Indian tribes have long had exclusive control over all gaming across the state. State lawmakers aren’t so certain the tribes can lay claim to sports betting, since it wasn’t actually legal when the State’s gaming compact with the tribes went into effect.

One option for settling the thorny dispute is for the state to allow other outlets to offer sports betting, while giving the tribes a cut of the action. That’s they way they’re currently working Connecticut keno. Under the keno plan, the tribes get a whopping 25 percent of the gross operating revenue of a game that’s actually run by the state.

While it seems unlikely that the State will run a sports betting operation, it’s clear that something will have to be done. Fortunately, state lawmakers are pretty friendly towards local tribes, which isn’t surprising given the fact that Indian casinos generate more than $ 200 million in annual tax revenue.

Governor Malloy indicated a willingness to work with the tribes in an interview with the Hartford Courant saying, “We probably have a more complicated issue in Connecticut, given the unique nature of our compacts with the two tribal nations who have casinos in our state. We have a little catch-up to do with some of our neighboring states with respect with their ability to move into these arenas more rapidly than we are.”

The issue of tribal gaming is just one of many that state lawmakers are working on surrounding sports betting. Others include how to keep minors from placing wagers online, and what cut of the action to give the leagues as an “integrity fee.”

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