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Malloy: tribes must be in on sports betting

HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday said lawmakers will likely be asked to approve a new gambling compact during an expected special session this summer to consider legal sports betting.

“The future is now and its happened,” Malloy said of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to open up legal sports betting in the states.

“We need to definitively state what our position is,” Malloy said. “It’s a little bit more complicated in Connecticut given the compacts with the Indian tribes. It is my opinion, and the opinion of lawyers who have looked at this, that we move forward with a compact where we would not endanger the revenue we receive from the tribes.”

Malloy added the special session would have a single purpose, meaning he would not favor discussion of a possible Bridgeport casino or any linkage to that issue.

The compacts now give the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indian tribes the exclusive right to offer gambling on their reservations. In return, the tribes pay the state 25 percent of their slot machine revenue from the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun resorts, now worth about $250 million a year.

The tribes have warned that because sports betting would likely be done through video machines — something similar to a slot machine — the compact would be broken if the gambling was allowed statewide. Attorney General George Jepsen has said sports betting would not violate the compact or allow the tribes to withhold the money.

Malloy on Tuesday said he plans to talk with the tribes about changing the compacts to accommodate sports betting. The state struck a new revenue sharing arrangement with the tribes after Keno was authorized.

A bill authorizing sports betting was heard in the General Assembly this year but was not passed by the House and Senate.

Representatives for Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association told lawmakers they insist on being paid a 10 percent “integrity” fee from each bet to protect their product and ensure fair and fraud-free wagering.

Malloy said he’s is already beginning to meet with tribal leaders, legislative leaders and others over sports betting.

“I’ve already reached out to the tribes and acknowledged the best way forward is a compact and having discussions with other groups, such as UConn, which has a major NCAA program,” Malloy said.

Malloy added “I’m mindful of all of those but it begins with an agreement with the tribes. I would not sign anything into law that endangers the gaming proceeds with the tribe.”

bcummings@ctpost.com

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