Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has denied the request of municipal officials in eastern Connecticut to allow the Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun casino to offer online gambling while they are closed.
The request comes in the midst of some bad timing since the state capital of Hartford is currently swamped by efforts to slow down COVID-19 cases and how to cope with the economic losses caused by the shutdown.
Governor Lamont wrote a letter declining the request to Mark Nickerson, the chairman of a regional council of governments in eastern Connecticut. This is where the operators of these two casinos, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations, are based. The casinos themselves are major employers in the state and their shutdown is causing economic problems.
In response to the economic crisis, Nickerson sent a letter that requested Governor Lamont to use his powers to allow online gambling. This request was backed by all the other chief elected officials in all of the 22 towns in the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments. Their specific request was that the tribes would be allowed to online gambling on all devices. This would have allowed them to skip the usual legislative hoops that they need for approval. Governor Lamont felt this was too much.
Lamont feels that legalizing online gambling needs debate and political consensus instead of having an executive order do it. The Governor said that it did not make sense for them to push online gambling at a time when residents of Connecticut were in lockdown mode and facing financial problems due to the lockdown.
The governor also pointed out that the state was already delaying the tribe’s regulatory assessments and slots payments as part of COVID-19 relief efforts.
Still Pushing For iGaming
Despite the denial, Rodney Butler, the chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots is still pushing for online gambling to be allowed. He feels that all of the legislative hurdles mentioned by the governor should not be a block when allowing temporary online gambling approval. He also points out that the Department of Interior has already endorsed that the tribes should be allowed to conduct gambling off the reservations.
Butler is also very concerned about the rigid policy for the casinos during this time. Casino operators are already worried about their workers and their benefits. Additionally, there is still no idea when the casinos can reopen and whether they would will be profitable after the pandemic.