Tribes seek sports betting exclusivity in Connecticut

Tribal operators argued that they have the exclusive rights to operate sports betting in the state if it becomes legal in the US.

US.- Executives of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes sent separate letters to legislative leaders this weekend, in which they claimed that the revenue-sharing agreements they signed with the state also gives them the rights to operate sports betting if it becomes legal in the country.

The operators of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun opened a discussion in those letters, as they believe that the agreements that give the state a 25 per cent cut of video slot machine revenue from their casinos each month also gives them the exclusive rights to operate sports betting if the US Supreme Court lifts the federal ban.

In a letter directed to House Speaker Joseph Aresimowicz, the Mohegans cited a recent opinion from Attorney General George Jepsen, who said that the legislature should “carefully consider a number of factors before legalising sports wagering.” The tribe also pointed out that Jepsen’s statement said that “the tribes may argue that a state law permitting sports wagering in Connecticut may violate the exclusivity provisions.”

Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, and House Majority Leader Matthew Ritter said that it was unlikely that the state would turn sports betting over to the tribes. The House Speaker said that he doesn’t believe that casinos can’t stop payments to Connecticut if they allow sports betting outside of their venues.

“I’d rather have conversations than say, ‘OK, you stop paying us the money for the compact and then we’ll tell you that you can’t have slot machines at all in the state,” Aresimowicz said. “Nobody wants to do that. The tribes are going to be part of any type of gambling we do in the state of Connecticut.”

The Mashantucket Pequots said something similar to what the Mohegans claimed in their letter, and noted that if sports betting is legalised, it would likely constitute “a video facsimile or video game of chance,” and if the legislature authorises sports betting “in a manner that constitutes a video facsimile or video game of chance, such an authorisation would lift the moratorium under the tribal-state gaming compacts,” the letter stated.

The bill that discusses the legalisation of sports betting in the state comes in anticipation of the US Supreme Court ruling, which is expected to take place in June, on whether states have the right to regulate sports betting or not.

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