Place your bets: Will CT launch online and sports gaming for the NFL season?

Photo of Ken Dixon
The sports-betting area of Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.

The sports-betting area of Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.

Steven Senne / Associated Press

Now that the state House of Representatives has approved the historic expansion of gambling in Connecticut, and the Senate will act as soon as Tuesday, the Lamont administration is working on many fronts across state and federal agencies with the goal of launching online casino gambling and sports wagering in time for the lucrative National Football League season.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said Friday he is optimistic that the deal on gambling between the state, the Pequots and the Mohegan Tribal Nation can be reviewed and approved by federal authorities in time for the September 9 kickoff between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The state Department of Consumer Protection is preparing regulations that will likely be fast-tracked.

Paul Mounds, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief of staff who has been the point man in the negotiations between the two tribes and the state, said Friday that revisions to the compact that has given the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegan exclusive rights to casino games are being redrafted — and will be signed when the legislation reaches Lamont’s desk.

That could occur as early as Tuesday afternoon, depending on when the Senate approves the deal, which won overwhelming bipartisan support on Thursday night after a brief, hour-long debate in the House. When the tribes and Lamont sign a new memorandum of understanding, the tribes will reach out to the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“While this is a very aggressive timeline, we want to get up and running for the NFL,” Mounds said.

The legislative financial analysts project $30 million in revenue in the budget year that starts July 1 and $83 million a year by the end of June, 2026.

On a parallel track, Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull is directing her staff to move quickly. “We are actively working on the regulations, based on the language in the bill,” Seagull said Friday.

At the same time, the Connecticut Lottery Corp., which will also have a piece of the online gambling pie, is planning on as many as 15 retail locations. Sportech, which has run off-track betting locations in Connecticut for nearly 30 years, is the likely subcontractor, state lawmakers said Thursday — though Sportech reemains unhappy with the legislation because it’s not a direct party.

Under the legislation, the tribal nations would be allowed to accept online and in-person sports bets, as well as run fantasy sports and online casino games. The lottery would have online sports betting, draw games and expanded Keno.

Butler said he and the tribal teams will likely check in with the Bureau of Indian Affairs once the final language of the new memorandum is completed and see if there are any initial concerns before formally submitting it. The BIA has 45 days to respond once it receives the request.

Butler sure that if all goes well, state bettors should be able to wager in time for that Thursday night game between the Cowboys and Bucs.

“It’s definitely doable,” Butler said. “I think the biggest hurdle will be on ourselves and getting the regulatory process in time. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. We have incredible professionals within the state and we should have state regulations in place.” Twitter: @KenDixonCT