Connecticut Rep Stephen Dargan Says Online Gambling Inevitable
For decades, Connecticut was never labeled as a casino gambling state. It’s had little more than two casinos for the last twenty years or so. But according to State Representative Steve Dargan, a full-blown online gambling market, including online casinos, poker rooms and sports betting operations, is the inevitable future of the Nutmeg State.
Connecticut got its first taste of gambling in 1992 with the opening of Foxwoods Casino. In 1996, Mohegan Sun opened its doors to gambling enthusiasts. Over time, 15 off-track horse betting locations popped up around the state, but otherwise, Connecticut has remained fairly succinct in its gaming diversity. Last December, however, it appeared that the gambling industry would be expanding into a new frontier when Sportech Inc. appealed to the state for the right to offer its Connecticut Off-Track Betting (OTB) operation over the internet.
Sportech, the British-based company that runs all of Connecticut’s OTB facilities, was granted approval to present online horse betting to residents of the state. The company immediately presented a soft launch of its new OTB website, and although they missed their goal of an official launch before the start of the Kentucky Derby – annually recognized as the biggest day of horse race betting – Sportech finally launched its legitimate online betting site five weeks later on June 8.
In addition, June saw the Nutmeg State approving a state-wide keno operation; something neighboring residents in Massachusetts have been enjoying since 1993. Connecticut avoided the provision of a keno system for all these years, speculating that it might violate their Indian casino compact. State officials curt-tailed that issue by isolating 12.5% of all keno revenue from sales at non-casino establishments to be paid to casino operators. The casinos still get paid, consumers can purchase keno tickets state-wide, everyone is happy.
With so much going on recently in regards to Connecticut’s gambling industry, Chairman of the Connecticut Public Safety Committee, Rep. Steve Dargan (D-West Haven), has made it clear that he suspects online gambling in all formats will inexorably become the future of gaming operations in the Nutmeg State. “It’s inevitable that Internet gambling is the next step when it comes to expansion.
“The gaming industry is a fascinating industry and it has always intrigued me, especially Internet gaming, which is a multi-billion dollar business,” said Rep. Dargan. “We have all forms of gambling in the state already, and you can actually bet on a Connecticut-based horse racing site now online.”
The chairman went on to say, “We should really look at the issue of internet gaming, especially sports betting on football and baseball, and how it could be structured to tap into that additional revenue. [New Jersey Governor] Christie is trying to get [sports betting], and I think many states out there are waiting to see how that turns out.”
As neighboring states like Delaware and New Jersey prepare to launch their own previously legalized online gambling markets, Connecticut officials are well aware that it could cause an immense drop in their current land-based gambling revenue. Both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have already put in bids to open gambling facilities in Massachusetts to offset the expect decline in income. If Connecticut wants to keep up with the Jones’, as the saying goes, online casino, poker and sports betting regulation is a must.