Connecticut Democrats Could Opt To Legalise Sports Betting And Marijuana

Democrats in the state senate of Connecticut could revive sports betting legislation while adding recreational cannabis to the mix in an effort to raise money for the infrastructure programme of Gov. Ned Lamont (D).

State legislators from both parties introduced “An Act Concerning Jobs In and Revenue From the Gaming Industry” in July, which included provisions for a sweeping expansion of gaming in the Constitution State, along with a new Bridgeport land-based casino, online wagering and sports betting.

That effort has stalled and it was believed that sports wagering would not be discussed in the special legislative session of Connecticut as recently as late October. However, Lamont is looking for funding for a 10-year, $21.3 billion transportation scheme that he believes can be funded through the introduction of 14 new bridge tolls across the state.

With the upcoming election year in 2020, state democrats don’t like the idea of explaining new tolls to constituents and are looking for alternative sources of funding for the infrastructure plan. Connecticut Republicans pitched a transportation effort of $18 billion that does not include new taxes or tolls, but does not mention any form of gaming as a source of revenue.

“We agree that our Rainy Day Fund is currently at a historically high level and that the bipartisan budget passed in 2017 established policies to promote future fiscal stability,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven) in a statement. “We are conferring with the Office of Fiscal Analysis and analysing the numbers in the Senate Republican plan.”

Lamont’s proposal had previously called for 53 new tolls, but that number was pared to 14 when his own party members baulked at that initial figure.

It is clear that the votes around the Nutmeg State are not there for further tolls, but Lamont is doubtful that the tally is enough to pass marijuana or sports wagering bills. Nor does he think that the new tolls would generate even if the combination of marijuana and sports betting could raise the $320 million a year.

Some states’ lawmakers have proposed and received vote support for sports wagering under the auspices of generating revenue for much-needed projects, but in some of those cases additional funding has been shown to be needed.

Estimates released earlier this year indicate that for Connecticut coffers, sports betting would generate $30 million to $40 million per year.

Sports wagering efforts in the state are stymied by the participation of several stakeholders. The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes who operate two state casinos, have exclusive gaming pacts with the state, but the Connecticut Lottery and off-track betting entities want in on the action when it comes to sports wagering.

In order for sports wagering to be passed soon in Connecticut, it may need to be separated into standalone legislation from the aforementioned gaming proposal, an idea that has not yet gained much traction.

Two of three states surrounding the Constitution State, New York and Rhode Island, permit sports betting, and neighbouring New Jersey has rapidly become one of America’s sports gambling meccas.