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Will sports betting be up and running in Connecticut time for the beginning of the NFL season? We look at the odds

by: STEPHEN SINGER for courant.com - posted on: 01-Sep-2021

Connecticut lawmakers gave the green light to sports betting earlier this year — but it’s still an open question as to whether all the necessary rules and regulations will be in place when the NFL season kicks off between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sept. 9.

Critical questions about how sports betting actually will work and when people will be able to place their bets in person or online remain unsettled, though a key meeting of state regulators today pushed the ball another step forward.

Here’s what we know:

When will sports betting begin?

The legislation Gov. Ned Lamont signed into law May 27 legalized sports betting and online gambling, greatly expanding gambling to tablets, phones and laptops. The law also authorizes the Connecticut Lottery Corp. to operate 15 sports betting locations across the state.

Before that, Paul Mounds, Lamont’s chief of staff, said that he “we should be up and running here in Connecticut” by the start of the football season Sept. 9.

That is. at this point, far from certain.

The CT lottery says gambling will begin early in the season. Max Reiss, Lamont’s spokesman, said the goal is to have all vendors start at the same time, even if that extends into September.

What’s the hold up?

The Legislative Regulation Review Committee met Tuesday and approved 82 pages of regulations governing the day-to-day operation of Connecticut’s new gambling enterprise.

The committee voted 9 to 4, with four Republicans raising questions about the need for emergency regulations so that sports betting could begin by the first day of the NFL season. Democrats, however, said the state needs to move forward.

The U.S. Department of the Interior still needs to approve the revised compacts between Connecticut and the Mohegans, who operate the Mohegan Sun, and the Mashantucket Pequots, who own Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The state earlier this year reached agreement with the two Native American casino owners that rewrote the state’s gambling laws to allow sports wagering and internet gambling. Connecticut is expected to receive $170 million guaranteed revenue over the 10-year contract with Rush Street Interactive, a Chicago gaming company to operate online sports betting.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said the Department of Interior could act at any time. When it does, state state consumer protection officials will issue wagering licenses, he said.

Where will I be able to make a bet?

Like most other states, there will be in person and online options.

In addition to both casinos, the Connecticut Lottery is working with Sportech, which already runs off-track-betting outlets in the state, to operate retail gambling venues.

The retail sites will be at 10 Sportech sites in Hartford, Manchester, Milford, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, Torrington, Waterbury and Windsor Locks. Five more sites, including an additional location in Hartford and one in Bridgeport, will be announced at a later date. Hartford’s XL Center is a possible location for the Hartford gambling venue.

There will also be multiple online options.

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are working with major online sports betting operators, Draft Kings and FanDuel, respectively. The lottery announced Aug. 12 it will partner with Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive to run an online sportsbook.

Butler said the start of online gambling and sports betting hinges on when the U.S. Department of Interior approves the revised compacts with the tribes and state officials issue gambling licenses.

“If everything lines up, Sept. 9 is achievable,” he said.

What are some of the regulations?

Some regulations are minor.

For example, rules will determine the dimensions -- 12 inches by 12 inches -- of signs at ATM machines informing users of problem gambling resources, said Sen. James Maroney, a Milford Democrat and co-chairman of the Regulation Review Committee.

More substantive regulations will determine how bettors will pay to gamble online. Consumers not use third-party payers such as Apple, Venmo or PayPal.

But with gambling, easy payments can lead to excessive betting, which was an issue in legislative debate approving expanded gambling in Connecticut.

To limit the extent of debt a gambler could take on, the law allows for one credit card at a time. “Rightfully so,” Reiss said.

The casinos’ tribal operators favor access to more than one card for users, he said.

Cody Chapman, a spokesman for Mohegan Sun, did not comment on the specifics of the regulations. He promised updates “as we head in to September.”

Butler said he will continue to work with Lamont and the state Department of Consumer Protection to make “quick, necessary changes” in the regulations to keep Connecticut competitive with other states.

As initially written, online gambling allows electronic fund transfers from a gambler’s individual account and not a jointly held account, Maroney said. However, vendors did not set up systems to distinguish a credit card that was individually or jointly held, he said.

Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-Seymour, and House chairwoman of the Regulation Review Committee, said a problem gambler can drain a joint account, prompting calls for the gambler’s account to be linked to online gambling.

Stephen Singer can be reached at ssinger@courant.com.
Staff writer Christopher Keating contributed to this story.

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