Lamont edges close to deal on sports betting. Just don’t ask for odds. – The CT Mirror

Lamont edges close to deal on sports betting. Just don’t ask for odds. – The CT Mirror

Chuck Bunnell, the chief of staff for the Mohicans, talks to lawmakers by Zoom.

For a full five seconds, Gov. Ned Lamont was the picture of unshakable confidence Tuesday when asked about the prospect of finally cutting a deal with the tribal owners of Connecticut’s two casinos over the rights to sports betting.

“The tribes have been great partners for the state of Connecticut going back 25-plus years. I have no doubt we’re going to get this deal done,” Lamont said. A split-second pause was followed by a less confident qualifier, “Knock on wood.” 

OK, there’s some doubt.

In two years as governor, the instinctively optimistic Lamont has learned there is no sure thing when it comes to gambling expansion in Connecticut, a state that benefits and is constrained by the complexities of two Indian gambling deals struck in the early 1990s.

Lowell P.  Weicker Jr., who is Lamont’s friend and one of his predecessors, gave the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans exclusive rights to casino games in return for 25% of slots revenue — producing more than $8 billion to the state over the decades.

The state and the tribes never have come to terms over whether sports betting is a casino game, but they are getting close. Everyone says so — knock on wood.

The question became relevant in May 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal restrictions
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