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Making Sense of the Online Gambling Debate

  • Feb 04, 2012

After a U.S. Department of Justice ruling in December opened the way for states to legalize online gambling, Governor Malloy had declared it "inevitable" that online gambling would come to the state.  But this week, both Malloy and Rep. Steve Dargan, co-chair of the Ct. legislature's public safety and security committee, declared that it was unlikely they would introduce a bill this upcoming legislative session.  State Sen. John McKinney, the minority leader, has said he opposes online gambling in the state altogether.

Introducing online gambling in Connecticut is likely to take away current business from the state's two large casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.  But some or all of those losses could be offset by new economic activity online.  Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have explored entering the online gaming market themselves, and their owners support legislation legalizing online gambling in Connecticut, as long as they remain the only authorized providers.

Many experts think online gambling should be regulated at the federal rather than state level, since it is difficult to limit most internet activity to a particular state.  They therefore believe the DOJ's ruling, which delegated decision-making to the states, has caused more confusion than clarification.  This may explain some of the uncertainty and inconsistency in Connecticut leaders' response to the decision.