Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has declined calls asking for the state’s two tribal-owned casinos to temporarily launch online gambling.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation-owned Foxwoods casino has been shut for almost a month, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Mohegan, owned by the Mohegan tribe, has also temporarily closed its doors.
The request for Lamont to exercise an Executive Order had been made by the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG).
Lamont declines requests for online gambling in Connecticut
Chief Elected Officials and Chief Executive Officers of the SCCOG’s 22 municipal members were left disappointed by Lamont’s decision. Although the Governor said that he understands the two tribes’ worries, he also argued that they have already received support.
Lamont pointed to Connecticut already agreeing to defer monthly contributions, in addition to regulatory assessment fees. The tribes have also benefited from a lower regulatory oversight fee. This was a direct result of their casinos being closed.
The Governor also expressed concerns about enabling online gambling when many people are enduring financial hardship. His words were as follows.
“Authorizing online gaming and enabling consumers to more easily access gambling is a significant policy decision that has not yet been embraced or acted upon by our legislature.
“Doing so at a time when so many Connecticut residents are in financial distress would be a particularly significant policy decision to make without legislative approval.
“Moreover, the state has not, and is not currently in a position to, establish and enforce the sort of regulatory and financial framework that is necessary to implement online gambling.”
He continued by mentioning that now isn’t an ideal time to go through legislative reforms.
“Once compact amendments were entered, they would need to be submitted for approval to both the legislature and the US Secretary of the Interior,” Lamont said.
“That process is simply not feasible or realistic during this crisis and while the legislature remains in recess.”
Helping people in need or so it was hoped
SCCOG Chair Mark Nickerson said that Connecticut, as well as the US in general, is in “unchartered territory” due to COVID-19.
Referring to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun as “two of our [the state’s] biggest employers”, he argued that “this revenue source will help them to immediately offset the losses they are facing”.
Nickerson also said the following about what additional state support could have provided.
“It will help get people back to work more quickly when the pandemic ends. It will help assure that the many municipalities that depend on revenue from the Pequot Fund are able to continue to receive this much needed funding.”
The SCCOG’s chief also talked about how both casinos have donated both their food and facilities. Moreover, he referred to both as vital members of the community.
The council is a known iGaming supporter. In January, it supported documentation put forward by Democrat Senator Cathy Osten. Titled ‘An Act Concerning Jobs In And Revenue From The Gaming Industry’, this legislation endorsed allowing tribes to offer online gambling.
Coronavirus in Connecticut
According to Connecticut’s official state website, 13,989 people have tested positive for COVID-19. 671 deaths have been linked back to the virus.
45,481 individuals have been tested altogether, with 1,779 people currently hospitalized.
Like much of the US, the Constitution State has been in lockdown since mid-March. Closures, social distances and other safety measures have been extended until at least May 20th.