OLR Bill Analysis

HB 6948 (as amended by House “A”)*

AN ACT CONCERNING REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

SUMMARY

This bill increases, by six from 18 to 24, the maximum number of authorized off-track betting (OTB) facilities. The additional six facilities, just like the 18 already authorized by current law, may include simulcasting (i.e., televise OTB programs) and provide other amenities (e.g., serve food). Existing law specifies the location of 15 OTB facilities and authorizes three additional ones in unspecified locations (see BACKGROUND). The bill's six additional facilities are for unspecified locations.

The bill establishes an Advisory Council on Large Entertainment Venues to coordinate large entertainment events at certain facilities and address other issues related to operating such facilities. The council includes representatives from large Connecticut entertainment facilities and, upon the authorization of a casino gaming facility, representatives from the tribes (see COMMENT).

The bill also requires the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) commissioner to adopt regulations to regulate wagering on sporting events to the extent allowed under state and federal law (see BACKGROUND).

*House Amendment “A” replaces the underlying bill, which made various changes to the regional economic development program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

ADVISORY COUNCIL ON LARGE ENTERTAINMENT VENUES

The bill entitles certain amusement, entertainment, and recreation facilities with seating capacities of more than 5,000 people to be represented on the council (i.e., Rentschler Field in East Hartford, XL Center in Hartford, Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Harbor Yard Ballpark in Bridgeport, Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford, New Britain Stadium, and venues for which admission charges would have been subject to the cabaret tax).

Under the bill, each council representative must be designated by September 1, 2017. The council must select one of its members as chairperson and schedule the first meeting by October 1, 2017. It must meet at least annually to consider (1) the coordination of concerts, mixed martial arts events, and other large entertainment events at the facilities and (2) other issues related to the facilities' operation, as determined by the council.

The bill also requires the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan tribes each to designate a representative to serve on the council once a business entity jointly and exclusively owned by them (i.e., MMCT Venture, LLC) is authorized to conduct any game of chance at a casino gaming facility in Connecticut (see COMMENT). These representatives to the council must assist the amusement, entertainment, and recreation facilities to schedule large entertainment events that are available for additional dates in the state.

BACKGROUND

OTB Facilities

The 15 existing simulcasting facilities are located in Bridgeport, Bristol, East Haven, Hartford, Manchester, Milford, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Putnam, Torrington, Waterbury, Windham, and Windsor Locks.

The location of each facility and the addition of simulcasting capability are subject to (1) DCP commissioner approval and (2) approval by the host town's legislative body. 

Sports Gambling

Sports gambling in Connecticut is currently illegal under both federal and state law. The federal (1) Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, with exceptions for states with sports gambling when the act was passed, prohibits states from legalizing sports gambling (28 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.) and (2) Wire Act prohibits the use of wire communications to wager on any sporting event (18 U.S.C. 1081 et seq.). These laws do not apply to gambling on horse racing.

Connecticut law, among other things, prohibits risking any money, credit, or other thing of value for gain, which is contingent upon chance. It prohibits any gambling activity in Connecticut unless specifically authorized by law (CGS 53-278a(2)).

Related Bill

sSB 957 (File 310, as amended by Senate “A”), passed by both the House and Senate, among other things, authorizes the operation of an off-reservation casino gaming facility in East Windsor, Connecticut, if certain conditions are met.

COMMENT

Sovereign Immunity

States generally lack jurisdiction over federally recognized Indian tribes, absent federal authority or an agreed-upon agreement (e.g., gaming compact). Thus, state law requiring the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to provide a council representative may be unenforceable.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Planning and Development Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

21

Nay

0

(03/24/2017)

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

45

Nay

0

(05/08/2017)