House Leaders Look To Prepare State For Legalized Sports Betting

February 28, 2018

Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington), House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) and Public Safety Committee House Chair Joe Verrengia (D-West Hartford) want legislation passed this session to prepare Connecticut for an expected 2018 ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court sports betting case Christie v. NCAA.

“If the court opens up this extremely popular market to the states, Connecticut should be ready to go from both a regulatory and operational standpoint,” Aresimowicz said. “The odds may be changing, and we need to look ahead and be ready for what the future of gaming will look like.”

In the Christie case, the state of New Jersey is challenging a 1992 federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibits states, outside of grandfathered Nevada and a few other narrow exceptions, from conducting sports betting.

“Connecticut should be ready to act as soon as the Supreme Court decision is handed down,” Ritter said. “Based on the oral arguments before the Court late last year, it seems entirely possible that the federal ban on sports betting will be overturned and we want to be competitive with other states.”

In consideration of the pending case, Connecticut passed a bill (HB6948) last year tasking the Department of Consumer Protection to begin the process of adopting regulations on wagering on sporting events. The goal of this year’s legislation would be to add more specifics as to how the state would handle sports betting.

Verrengia’s committee will be holding a sports gaming forum March 1, to help determine the best legislative approach to pursue. Scheduled participants for the forum include representatives of the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, as well as sports gaming industry officials. Last year, the NBA announced their support for overturning PASPA.

“I think it’s important that Connecticut is poised to compete in the marketplace should sports betting become legalized. The informational hearing - a national perspective from leaders in the industry - is intended to assist legislators in their decision making process,” Verrengia said.