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State-tribes agreement on sports wagering, online gaming said to be imminent

An agreement that would authorize the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to offer sports wagering and online gaming is imminent, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

“I think we’re at the one-tenth-of-one-inch line, but I don’t want to jump the gun,” he said, prolonging the football analogy some have used to characterize the status of talks between the governor’s office and the casino-owning tribes. One of the tribes — the Mashantuckets — had declined to agree to the deal.

Since the March 2 announcement that only the Mohegans were on board, the state and the Mashantuckets have resolved the lone “sticking point” that Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket chairman, had said divided them — the rate at which the state would tax the new online gaming.

The state and the Mohegans had agreed to 20%, but the Mashantuckets wanted 18%.

Paul Mounds, Lamont’s chief of staff and one of the negotiators, said there was “firm agreement with all parties” on the tax rate but that the Mashantuckets had put another issue back on the table. He declined to specify the issue, which also is believed to involve revenue.

“We’re hopeful that we will have some progressive and very positive news in the coming days — as soon as tomorrow,” Mounds said.

Word that the agreement is at hand came as the tribes’ respective casinos — Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun — were releasing their February slot-machine revenues, the latest reminder of the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effect on their business.

Figures released Monday show Foxwoods kept about $22.5 million in slots revenue after paying out prizes last month, paid 25% of it to the state and had to ante up nearly $2.4 million more to meet the “minimum contribution” specified in the Mashantuckets’ decades-old revenue-sharing agreement with the state.

The revenue-sharing agreement calls for Foxwoods to contribute $56 million to the state through the first eight months of each fiscal year — and $80 million for the entire fiscal year. Through the first seven months of the current fiscal year, Foxwoods had contributed $48 million to the state, keeping pace with the minimum contribution thresholds by making additional payments of nearly $800,000 in December and $1.9 million in January.

The casino needed to contribute $8 million in February to meet the minimum contribution threshold. Its “win” of about $22.5 million yielded a 25% payment of $5,625,300, leaving a shortfall of $2,374,700.

Over the last three months, Foxwoods’ additional payments to the state come to nearly $5 million.

Mohegan Sun reported Monday that it kept $32.7 million in slots revenue last month and contributed $8.2 million of it to the state, bringing its cumulative contribution for the first eight months of the fiscal year to $75.2 million.

The tribes’ pending agreement with the state authorizes them to provide sports wagering online and in person at their casinos and allows the Connecticut Lottery Corp. to also operate online and in-person sports wagering.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

 

 

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