The tribal operators of two Connecticut casinos have argued that a potential sports betting market would fall under existing exclusivity agreements.
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes’ Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun casinos currently contribute 25 percent of their video slots revenue to the state.
“If the legislature authorises sports betting in a manner that constitutes a video facsimile or video game of chance, such an authorisation would lift the moratorium under the tribal-state gaming compacts,” said a letter from the tribe.
The compacts, signed during the 1992 establishment of casinos in the state, delivered $204m to the Connecticut government during 2017 from the two venues.
The operators also quoted Attorney General George Jepsen’s April statement that “tribes may argue that a state law permitting sports wagering in Connecticut may violate the exclusivity provisions”.
The letter, addressed to House Speaker Joseph Aresimowicz, was intended to facilitate a similar arrangement to a 2015 deal which saw the legislature agree to set aside a quarter of state Keno profits for the tribes.
The agreement saw Connecticut deliver $6.5m of Keno revenue to the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans in 2017.
The latest legal contest from the tribe, however, has been disputed by the government, arguing a provision for sports betting is not made apparent in the original compact.
“It was never contemplated and the specific words were never used,” said House Majority Leader Matthew Ritter “Here we are 26 years later and they’re raising it for the first time. I’ve heard and read better legal arguments than that one.”