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Lamont marks start of CT sports betting with his first ever wagers – New Haven Register

Gov. Ned Lamont ushered in the next step in legalized gambling in Connecticut Thursday, placing a sports wager of $50 for the Connecticut Sun basketball team to cover the spread and beat the Chicago Sky.

After casting the bet at Mohegan Sun, the governor placed two $20 bets at Foxwoods, picking the Yankees to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to top the New England Patriots this Sunday.

Lamont, who grew up a Yankees fan, said it was his first time ever betting on sports and that he was a “safe man.” With the exception of the Yankees, all of the teams the governor bet on are favored to win, though Lamont said he also bet on each of his teams to cover the spread.

“I bet my heart, I don’t know what the odds are,” Lamont said at Foxwoods.

If the Sun win, Lamont will receive $46.50 plus the $50 for a total of $96.50, a Mohegan official said. It was not immediately known what the payout would be at Foxwoods if the governor wins.

The first bets come after the state Department of Consumer Protection approved licenses for sports betting at both the tribal casinos.

It also follows federal approval given in early September to allow online gambling and sports betting at the two casinos.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said he expected the opening of the sportsbook at Foxwoods to draw several thousand gamblers to the casino this weekend. Butler said he also anticipated the NFL and the upcoming MLB playoffs to be early drivers of wagers.

“This weekend, with the Buccaneers and Patriots, that’s going to be the most heavily betted game that we’ll see probably for the whole season,” Butler said.

The state legislature this year approved both online gambling and sports betting in Connecticut in a move that was later approved by Lamont. It is expected to generate millions in revenue for the state.

Lamont said early in his administration, he came to the conclusion that years of “unfinished business,” and unsuccessful efforts to legalize sports betting had left Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun at a disadvantage as other states legalized online and in-person sports gambling. That disadvantage grew wider during the pandemic, Lamont said, as gambling mostly moved online.

“It wasn’t one of my big priorities to tell you the truth,” Lamont said. “But again, the time was right, the world was going virtual, I want the casinos here to thrive and it means real revenues for the state, so we put it on the front burner.”

But much of the approvals are still to come for more expansive sports wagering and online gambling.

Under the gaming law adopted by the General Assembly and signed by Lamont, the state’s lottery corporation has the right to operate internet-based lottery games and as many as 15 sports betting locations, including in Hartford and Bridgeport.

Once online gaming is fully up and running, Butler said it will likely dominate the state’s share of online sports betting. As regular patrons return to in-person gaming at the casinos, Butler said the retail sportsbooks will likely comprise about one-fifth of revenues for sports betting.

“This is what makes sense, not only for the Pequot, but for the state of Connecticut and really for the gaming industry at large,” Butler said. “We have to migrate to sports betting, and we have to get online, every other industry is going there.”

Both of the state’s casinos partnered with giants in online sports gambling to help set up their sportsbook. Foxwoods’ sportsbook is partnered with DraftKings, while Mohegan Sun is aligned with FanDuel.

Both retail operations opened Thursday at temporary locations while the two casinos work to build permanent sportsbooks complete with dining options, bars and dozens of screens to showcase games.

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