Connecticut Lawmakers Want Gambling Expansion for College Aid
Lawmakers in the state of Connecticut would like to expand gambling in a major way to provide tuition assistance for college students.
It is not uncommon for proceeds from gambling services within states of the US to go towards education. Many lotteries provide funds for educational programs and scholarships. In Connecticut, lawmakers would like to see gambling expanded in a huge way, with proceeds going to help college students pay for tuition. Plans for legalizing new options were introduced on Friday.
What’s the Plan?
The idea is to legalize more gambling options so funds can be allocated to the Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT) fund. The PACT was created in 2019 and helps to fill in the gap regarding financing costs for local college students who have already used federal, state, and institution assistance. The goal is to offer students a way to earn a college education debt free.
The plan announced on Friday would legalize online lottery ticket sales, as well as online gambling and sports betting. According to Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, the idea is to make it to where lower-income students can have access to the higher education system and eliminating as much debt as possible in the process.
In Connecticut, the gambling industry is operated solely by two federally recognized Native American tribes, the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. They operate the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino respectively. The tribes would have to be involved in any effort to change the gambling landscape of the state.
Both tribes would like to offer sportsbooks and online gambling. Governor Ned Lamont has stated he is supportive of allowing the tribes to offer sports betting and iGaming. Both options would give the state an upper hand when it comes to nearby competition from Massachusetts. The casinos in the neighboring state do not offer online gambling or sports betting.
It is democratic lawmakers that are interested in the gaming expansion. They feel that adding more options is a win-win scenario. Over the past few years, tribal gaming has decreased. It would most likely increase with the additions which would help the PACT fund to grow.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff pointed out that in Connecticut, the state relies on the workforce to push the economy. The state does not have oil wells or natural gas. The natural resource the state has its the people. A well-educated workforce would meet the job needs of the 21st century and beyond. This is why the PACT program is so important.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a strain on the local economies within the United States. It has also seen an increase in the number of players participating in online gambling. Gross gaming revenues rose immensely in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania where online gambling is legal due to players staying home and taking part in the gaming options.
Connecticut could certainly benefit from the new revenues that online gambling could bring. The virus is still an issue this year and social distancing remains a key component to avoiding the spread. With iGaming in Connecticut, it would give citizens an outlet for entertainment that is safe and one that benefits the community at large.
Foxwoods Casino has already taken steps towards sports betting and online gambling. The casino announced back in December it has a new partnership with DraftKings. This partnership would be valid for both sports betting and online casino games as the operator has experience in both categories.
We will watch and see over the next few weeks how the legislation progresses. Will lawmakers be able to push a bill through? Or will others stand in their way, stopping any new expansion of the gambling industry?