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Conn. lawmakers, Indian tribes at odds over sports betting rights

State lawmakers are paving the way to allow sports betting in Connecticut.

Posted Updated

Susan Raff
Olivia Lank
HARTFORD, CONN. — State lawmakers are paving the way to allow sports betting in Connecticut.

If the federal government says yes, there would be a plan in place.

The state's Indian tribes are now looking for exclusive rights.

When it comes to sports betting, there is support for it, but some feel it should be regulated

The tribes are trying to cut out a deal for themselves.

Now that the Supreme Court may legalize sports betting, everyone wants in on the action.

Off Track Betting feels they're set up perfectly. They say customers can place bets on horses, dogs, and sports.

The state's Indian tribes also want in and don't want to share.

A statement from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribes says, "The Mashantucket Pequot Tribes position is sports betting is a commercial casino game." They go on to say that, "sports betting falls within the exclusivity granted to the tribes under the current agreement."

"The casinos are being a bit disingenuous and probably going too far, in my opinion, to suggest they have those rights too," said State Representative Vinnie Candelora of North Branford.

Rep. Candelora feels the tribes are out of line and the Attorney General agrees.

A statement provided by Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in part, "it is our opinion that if sports betting were to become lawful in Connecticut, the tribes would not have an exclusive right under the existing compacts."

The only place sports betting is legal is at the casinos in Las Vegas, it's now mostly online.

"No one likes to be strong-armed, but sports betting is a small piece of a bigger picture, let's get in a room and have a complete comprehensive conversation," said State Representative Joe Verengia of West Hartford.

Legislation would allow the tribes and the lottery to participate.

Professional sports leagues also want in, to regulate it and prevent games from being rigged.

The House Speaker says the tribes can't have a monopoly, or the right to withhold revenue the state gets from the casinos.

"We can essentially walk down there and say slots are turned off, nobody wants to do that, the tribes will be a part of any gaming activity we do in the state of Connecticut," said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz.

There is bi-partisan support, but many want regulations.

Lawmakers want to make sure integrity is maintained to prevent fixing games.

Sports betting could generate $40 million a year, but it can't happen unless the federal government allows it.

It wasn't voted on last year because lawmakers were waiting for the court to rule.

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