Connecticut committee chair files sports betting proposal

7 March 2019

The chairman of the Connecticut House Public Safety and Security Committee Joe Verrengia has filed a proposal to regulate online and land-based sports betting in the state.

Verrengia’s HB7331 allows in-person wagering and remote betting via electronic wagering platforms, with oversight for the market entrusted to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

Those applying for sports wagering operating licences will pay a $100,000 (£76,000/€88,400) non-refundable application fee, then a $500,000 for a two-year licence. It is one of three licences available, alongside sports wagering vendor licences, which come with a $100,000 application fee and $300,000 licence fee, and sports wagering lottery sales agent licences, accompanied by a $250,000 fee.

Those aged 21 years old and above will be allowed to bet on sports, with operators required to offer voluntary self-exclusion and the ability to set spending limits. It also blocks anyone involved in professional sports from team owners to employees of sports governing bodies, from betting.

Operators will be taxed at 9.89% of gross revenue, with the state to establish the Sports Wagering Account, a new fund alongside the Connecticut General Fund. Money raised from sports betting will be deposited in this fund, and used to cover the Department of Consumer Protection’s regulation- and licensing-related costs.

At the end of each year, half of 1% of money in the account will be allocated to Connecticut’s five Regional Behavioral Health Action Organizations, as designated by the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The remaining money will then be transferred to the state General Fund.

HB7331 will also create a new compact with the state’s tribal casino operators, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The pair currently hold the exclusive right to operate casino gambling in the state, and Verrengia proposes creating a new sports betting-specific compact. This would have to be approved by the US Department of the Interior, under the terms of the the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The compact appears to be under the same conditions as the existing agreement, under which the tribes contribute 25% of operating revenue to state coffers.

Verrengia’s bill also takes an unique approach to integrity fees, by mandating the Connecticut Commissioner of Economic and Community Development seeks partnerships with professional sports leagues and governing bodies, using funds generated from legal wagering.

This will be with the ultimate goal of scheduling at least three major league professional sports events in the state each year, which reflect Connecticut’s geographic and demographic diversity.

The bill has been assigned to the House Public Safety and Security Committee, of which Verrengia is chair, for further discussion. Should it make it through the committee - then House, Senate and Governor - it would come into law from July 1, 2019.

Image: Max Hester