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Connecticut Tribes Want to Play Part in Online Regulation

Though it is likely no bill will be presented to the state legislature this session, Connecticut lawmakers are thoroughly exploring the options for internet gambling.

At a forum held last month by the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee, representatives from both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes were eager to pursue the issue. The tribes, whose gaming compact requires that they provide the state with 25 percent of their slot machine take in exchange for exclusive gambling rights, are pushing hard to become the centers for a regulated online system.

Representatives from both Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun argue that unregulated online gambling is already happening in Connecticut, and the state should act quickly to create a regulated system. According to the tribes, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, which contributed $359 million to the state in 2011, are in a position to provide the infrastructure. If Connecticut decides to go through the state lottery or an outside vendor, however, the tribes would see this as a violation of their original compact.

“The state should carefully consider the impact any legislation might have on its existing relationships with the tribes,” said Robert Clark, special counsel to the state attorney general.

There is opposition from some state officials on the matter of internet wagering. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney held a recent press conference claiming “widespread misinformation and misinterpretation” on the matter of online gambling. The governor’s office, which McKinney regularly criticizes, remained unmoved by his condemnation.

“The Justice Department decision makes clear that online gaming will eventually reach Connecticut,” said Roy Occiogrosso, the administration’s chief adviser. “Governor Malloy is concerned about protecting jobs and revenue that are tied to the gaming industry, and looks forward to having a public dialogue on the issue in the coming weeks and months.”

Despite the governor’s receptive ear, no legislation has yet to emerge to settle the issue directly.