If online gaming is legalized in Connecticut — either by state or federal legislation — both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes say they want in on running the games.
Both tribes in Connecticut — which each own and operate a casino — issued statements to that effect in the wake of a Courant story Wednesday about possible legislation at both the state and federal level that could make it legal to bet online from home computers.
Both tribes in Connecticut — which each own and operate a casino — issued statements to that effect in the wake of a Courant story Wednesday about possible federal and state legislation that could make it legal to bet online from home computers. A key committee co-chairman in the Connecticut General Assembly said in the story that legislators “absolutely” should consider legalizing some form of online gaming when they reconvene in January, and Congress now is drafting potential legislation legalizing online poker nationally.
Under legislative language currently being discussed by U.S. Senate leaders, states could “opt in” to operate online poker under the regulations of the federal program — but they could only run online poker, not any other form of online betting such as sports betting or other games played at casinos. The legislation could be acted on in the just-opened “lame duck session” scheduled to run through mid-December.
Cheryl Allen, public affairs coordinator for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino near Ledyard, issued this statement: “Consumers are making many more of their spending choices online or through mobile devices, and industries that do not adapt to the digital consumer marketplace will suffer. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation believes that regulation of internet gaming, either at the State or Federal level, is inevitable. Regulation of internet gaming will provide the much-needed player protections that are currently not available through unregulated offshore operators who are currently taking bets in the US and Connecticut. MPTN has been diligently studying the internet gaming space and is preparing itself to be an active participant in the marketplace when regulations permit.”
As for the Mohegan tribe, which owns the Mohegan Sun casino in Montville, it is fully prepared to jump in — although it specifies that it supports legalizing online poker only, and not Internet versions of other casino games, said Chuck Bunnell, the Mohegan tribe’s chief of staff for governmental and external affairs.
Bunnell said Mohegan tribal representatives have testified to that effect before the House and Senate over the past year. He also said that the tribes believe that the “compacts,” or legal agreements that they each have with the state government, would require that if Connecticut legalizes online gaming, the tribes would have the right to operate the program.
“We have regulations which are … ready to be approved” by the tribal government to operate online gaming “if it’s legalized by Congress or the state,” Bunnell said.
Casino operators have mixed feelings about online gaming, because if people play such games from home, they may not go out and spend their money in the casino, Bunnell said. But if online gaming is inevitable, some casino operators think it’s better to limit to poker — and not online versions of slot machines and other forms of gambling that people do at casinos.
“A lot of people in the industry feel that full gaming online gaming” — with people playing the games on their computers at home, “sitting in their underwear and a dirty T-shirt” — is “bad for business.” The industry would rather have them “go out and have that casino experience,” he said. But if online gaming is to happen, the tribes are best qualified to run it, he said.