In two weeks, the Connecticut General Assembly will commence a new session seeking fresh revenue sources such as commercial marijuana, electronic tolls, expanded casino gaming and a potential mega money machine–depending on how it’s structured–sports betting, something the U.S. Supreme Court opened up to all states.
Bridgeport is home to a parimutuel facility hoping to cash in on the action. But it goes well beyond that.
Think about it, you’re flopped on your couch at home, or work, or therapist’s office; you pull out your phone and presto … a mobile platform is available to bet on just about anything sports related. Gaming insiders assert that’s the mother lode of revenue generated by the masses. What gaming entity is sufficiently mobile friendly to generate a reservoir of new dough?
Connecticut is among the states navigating the process, albeit tardy compared to others who dipped their toes in the water.
The Hartford Courant examines neighboring Rhode Island as a possible template for Connecticut. (The spokesperson quoted is not a known relative.)
Paul Grimaldi, public information officer for the Rhode Island department of revenue, said the state is hesitant to move too quickly on sports betting, preferring to sort through legal and practical questions before expanding to mobile platforms or venues outside of the two Twin River properties. In the future, he said, lottery retailers such as liquor stores or convenience stores could offer some form of sports betting, but that sort of expansion would likely require additional legislation or a public referendum.
Many stakeholders across the country, including in Connecticut, have suggested that sports betting needs a mobile component in order to generate substantial revenue. Mobile allows bettors to gamble from their own couches, placing wagers through apps on their phones.
Rhode Island officials have also been deliberate in projecting revenue for their new sports-betting operation. Grimaldi said the state will consider over the coming months and years not only how much money betting brings in but also where that money comes from. As of now, no one knows whether sports gambling will generate new revenue (such as from Connecticut residents crossing the state border) or simply sap it from other taxable forms of leisure.
“If you were going to spend that money on some taxable item that’s not gambling, and now you spent it on gambling, do we simply move that money from the right-hand pocket to the left-hand pocket?” Grimaldi said. “Those are things we want to make sure that we can figure out and report back to the legislature and the governor here.”
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