Sunday July 14,2013 : CONNECTICUT POLITICIAN TO STUDY INTERNET GAMBLING IN THE ISLANDS
Rep. Steve Dargan, chairman of the Connecticut Public Safety Committee, says internet gambling is inevitable.
Rep. Steve Dargan, who chairs the Connecticut Public Safety Committee, believes that the advent of internet gambling in the US is inevitable, and he will soon visit one of the island jurisdictions to ensure that he is well-informed on an issue that is gathering momentum in many US states.
Speaking to the New Haven Register newspaper over the weekend, Dargan discussed both land and online gambling expansion in neighbouring and other US states, noting that earlier this year Connecticut Off-Track Betting, operated by Sportech, Inc., debuted with a soft launch, whilst states like Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada have all legalised online gambling or poker (see previous InfoPowa reports).
Dargan opined that full online casino gambling is the next logical step for Connecticut.
“It’s inevitable that Internet gambling is the next step when it comes to (gambling) expansion,” said Dargan. “The gaming industry is a fascinating industry and it has always intrigued me, especially Internet gaming, which is a multi-billion dollar business.
“We have all forms of gambling in the state already, and you can actually bet on a Connecticut-based horse racing site now online. 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 Chris) Christie is trying to get (sports betting) and I think many states out there are waiting to see how that turns out.”
The New Haven Register reports that when it comes to Connecticut seriously pursuing a full-blown Internet wagering operation beyond just horse racing, the sentiment is the state is wait-and-see what happens in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts has passed legalization to allow three casinos to be built throughout the state. To offset what could be huge losses as a result of the neighbouring casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have each made bids for a Massachusetts casino.
Massachusetts officials are expected to decide on those bids early next year.
If those bids are not accepted, the focus will likely turn to expanding Internet gambling to offset the revenue losses, the newspaper suggests.
“We are waiting to see what happens to our bid in Massachusetts,” Chuck Bunnell, chief of staff for Mohegan Sun, told the Register. “But Mohegan Sun’s position for some time now is we believe Internet wagering is inevitable. Either the state or federal government has to step in and regulate online gambling.
“It’s illegal, but people are finding ways to get around the system and finding ways to bet at these offshore online wagering sites. And with no regulation there is no protection to the consumer. People are naive if they think it isn’t happening. Everybody’s waiting to see what happens in New Jersey and Las Vegas, because in Nevada they’re also looking hard at Internet gambling.”
Mohegan Sun has already launched its own free-play online poker wagering operation, legal because it does not involve real-money action.
“We are actively investing in the potential of online wagering with our free online poker site,” Bunnell said. “With that site we are ready once Internet wagering is legalized.”
Ted Taylor, managing director of local Sportech operations, opined that United States-based online poker, casino and sports wagering isn’t going to happen very soon.
“Sure, there is a great deal of online gambling revenue out there, and expanding Internet gambling would also create new jobs, but it might happen a lot slower than some people might think,” said Taylor.
“First, everyone is waiting to see what happens in Massachusetts. If the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun bids fail, then they’ll look at other options.
“If the focus turns to Internet gambling, the two state casinos will be the driving forces. But absolutely nothing will happen unless all three parties, the two casinos and state officials, work together. All three have to get on the same page.”
Dargan says that Connecticut should not be using Internet wagering solely to balance the budget, and needs to look at all the available options to raise new revenue.
“Next month I’m going to one of the islands on a fact-finding trip to see how the operation works," Dargan revealed, adding that in Europe, it’s common to wager on sporting events…and that states around Connecticut are going to do it.
“When it comes to the sports leagues who fight hard against it, they’re hypocrites sometimes because you have people on the NFL and NBA preview shows talking about point spreads. Right now, we have added online horse racing and keno in our state and it’s a sign some people are looking at gambling a different way these days, he said.
”If it’s operated and approached the right way, if it doesn’t interfere with the two Indian casino compacts where we would lose any revenue from them, then I think we should consider tapping into that billion-dollar revenue that is out there.”