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Here’s Who Profited from Connecticut’s Legalized Digital Gambling

In the first year that the state legalized online gambling and sports betting, the state earned $41 million in tax revenue, which is much higher than expectations but much less than the profits of two of the state’s casinos.

(TNS) — Legalized online gambling and sports betting, now marking their one-year anniversary, have delivered a revenue bump for the two casinos that lobbied for digital betting and the state that’s benefiting from a modest tax boost.

From October 2021 to August, the most recent period for which data are available, online gambling generated $96.2 million in revenue for Foxwoods Resort Casino and $80.6 million for Mohegan Sun, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Sports betting produced an additional $84 million in revenue at the two casinos.

Online gambling and sports betting provided a nearly one-third revenue boost to the $562.6 million generated by the casinos’ slot machines from January to August.

“It’s a nice windfall for the state and for us to keep our heads above water,” said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which operates and owns Foxwoods.

For the state, which operates on a $24 billion annual budget, the impact is much smaller. Bettors using tablets, laptops and phones have generated $41 million in tax revenue since the launch in September and October 2021 of online gambling and sports betting, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.

That outstrips expectations.

In the state’s 2022 budget year that ended June 30, the administration of Gov. Ned Lamont budgeted $27.8 million from online gambling and sports wagering at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort casinos and Connecticut Lottery, according to the Office of Policy and Management.

Officials are optimistic about future tax revenue, which is based on bets placed online and at the casinos and Connecticut Lottery Corp. Estimates show annual revenue nearly doubling to $52.9 million by 2026.

Underlying casino and state government money-making were online wagers of $7.9 billion and $1.1 billion in sports betting in the 11 months between October 2021 and August. Patron winnings accounted for more than 94 percent of bets.

Following a difficult few years brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that shut the two casinos and limited reopening, revenue from online gambling has made a difference.

“Being online smooths out the bumps,” Butler said.

Revenue from online gambling and sports betting has helped make it possible for Foxwoods to reinvest in its Mashantucket site, including plans for an $85 million casino, Butler said.

Ray Pineault, chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun, said the roll-out of expanded gambling has been a success.

“We’re very pleased with the results we saw in year one,” he said. “We’ve learned some things about the marketing program, how to utilize bricks and mortar and online.”

In addition to generating revenue, digital gambling helps promote the Uncasville casino, entertainment, hotels and restaurants, Pineault said. And Mohegan Sun leans on its casino and other entertainment venues to promote digital gambling.

A spokesperson for DraftKings, the sports betting partner of Foxwoods, said that since launching mobile sports betting and iGaming in Connecticut a year ago, “we’ve seen tremendous engagement and are pleased with the results.”

FanDuel, Mohegan Sun’s sportsbook partner, did not respond to an email seeking information on its first year in operation in Connecticut.

Finding a legislative compromise establishing online gambling and sports betting in law was arduous. Then-Gov. Dannel P. Malloy began negotiating with tribal officials in 2018 after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a federal ban on state authorization of sports betting. A major snag was how to approach a state compact giving the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots exclusive rights with slot machine gambling.

Talks foundered with the Malloy administration. Lamont, who succeeded Malloy in January 2019, sought a broader update of Connecticut’s gambling rules to adapt it to digital technology.

Legislation Lamont signed into law in May 2021 sets an 18 percent tax for the first five years on new online commercial casino gaming, or “iGaming” offerings, followed by a 20 percent tax rate for at least the next five years. It also establishes a 13.75 percent tax rate on sports wagering.

Pineault said the past year was a “ramp-up phase” for expanded gambling in Connecticut.

“The first year is not an end all be all,” he said.

©2022 Hartford Courant. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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