Covered tribes claiming exclusivity on sports gaming

HARTFORD --  The two Native American tribes who run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are putting lawmakers on alert.

They said they are entitled to a monopoly on sports betting in Connecticut.

There are two bills, one in the house and one in the senate who lay the framework.

At issue is language in the tribes agreement with the state.

They say sports betting would qualify as a, “commercial casino game,” under which the tribes would be required to surrender 25 percent of the revenue to the state.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen called it an open question.

“I think I’m closer to agreeing with the attorney general than the tribes on their legal argument, but they’ve always been a partner. I can’t envision sports gaming not involving the tribes to some extent, but I also can’t see them having the exclusive right to operate,” explained House Majority Leader Matt Ritter.

FOX61 learned that lawmakers plan to meet with representatives of the tribes Wednesday to discuss their differences. Republican State Sen. Tony Hwang told FOX61 that gaming shouldn’t be expanded at all.

“It is an opportunity for people to experience competition, sportsmanship, and the opportunity to be able to exchange fellowship. We are turning it into a gambling numbers game. It’s unfortunate and it should not be done,” said State Sen. Hwang.

Mohegan Sun Attorney General Helga Woods wrote, “In Nevada, sports betting has been legal in connection with commercial casinos for decades.”

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter told that argument isn’t valid.

“Well, Nevada has had sports gaming for a very long time. It was never something that was contemplated in Connecticut when they entered the compact so I think they are missing that link. It is hard to compare Nevada to Connecticut.”

It’s not the first time the tribes have been at odds with the state. In 2015 Keno legislation regarding free play led to an ultimate agreement.