The path to sports betting in Connecticut hinges on cooperation
The release of Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget provided a signal of hope to Connecticut’s gaming operators and to Connecticut’s sports betting fans with the inclusion of new forms of gaming, including sports betting, in the near future.
This represents a vital first step in the evolution of Connecticut’s gaming industry, necessary to harness emerging technologies, increase protections for consumers and the vulnerable, secure all of the revenue the state is entitled to, and effectively compete with illegal operators and neighboring states.
Ultimately, it is for the state to decide on a solution for sports betting that avoids litigation; however, Connecticut’s four existing licensed gaming operators can do our part by coming together on an agreement that benefits the state, creates jobs and employs and promotes the incredible talent Connecticut has in this sector.
Connecticut’s gaming industry benefits from having four professional licensed operators, each delivering specific types of gaming under longstanding agreements with the state and with respect for each other’s area of business.
• Connecticut Lottery provides lottery gaming across Connecticut.
• Sportech provides Off-Track Betting (OTB) in venues and online across Connecticut.
• The Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan Tribes collectively provide casino gaming.
Sportech’s OTB system has been offering responsible betting entertainment across Connecticut for nearly 30 years, supporting hundreds of jobs and generating millions in tax revenue and responsible gaming contributions.
We at Sportech reaffirm our recommendation that, where sports betting is concerned, the state’s four existing gaming operators should compete on the field, each delivering their own sportsbook to Connecticut, and let the people choose who they wish to bet with.
This solution is the very spirit of cooperation that was encouraged by lawmakers at a January Public Safety and Security Committee informational forum on gaming.
With new legislation, the Lottery also seeks to expand its lottery online, and the tribes seek additional arrangements to expand beyond their two casinos to provide internet casino gaming across Connecticut. These both represent highly lucrative opportunities for the Lottery and the casinos, respectively.
Sports betting however, is what WE do; we take bets on events taking place elsewhere, and our entire business revolves around the sports calendar. In addition to offering betting at our OTB’s, Sportech is currently the only operator licensed to offer internet and mobile betting across the state, allowing you to bet on racing from your phone or online.
Despite the fact that betting is what we do, we continue to promote a four-way solution that would extend licenses for sports betting to all four operators.
Based on public testimony by representatives of the Connecticut Lottery Corp., we believe that they share this position. We continue to hope that the two tribes will recognize what’s in the best interest of Connecticut and their respective organizations, the path to progress, and the clear route for sports betting, while gaining state support for their, far-more lucrative, expansion into internet casino gaming. Results from New Jersey alone in 2020 indicate direct state revenues from internet gaming and sports betting generated almost $200 million, $146 million from internet casino gaming and $50 million from sports betting.
In addition to being a truly fair and equitable solution for gaming operators, having four separate sports betting providers is clearly beneficial for consumers. Fixed odds sports betting requires a level of competition. As each operator sets their own pricing, lack of competition is bad for consumers and bad for the state. A monopoly or duopoly could set price with minimal regard to competition and consumers may decide to take their chances with illegal operators in order to find the competition not built into the legislation.
We at Sportech are committed to an equitable gaming solution and confident that with sufficient cooperation and transparency, we can work together effectively to create a solution that will modernize Connecticut’s gaming industry, create jobs, and spur economic growth.
Without an agreed proposal between the state’s existing gaming operators, the only realistic option for the state, to avoid further litigation, may be to do nothing at all. In this environment, wouldn’t that be a shocking result?
Richard McGuire is the CEO of Sportech PLC, parent company of Sportech Venues Inc in Connecticut.
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