Call a vote on sports betting in Connecticut
By Tim Larson
The Hartford Courant is right about one thing when it comes to sports betting in Connecticut: It’s a missed opportunity.
This can be said about many issues in our state, but the most recent and glaring is the failure to come together and pass a well-regulated sports betting law that can and will bring in millions of dollars.
Rather than focusing on another frustrating chapter in our recent history, I am calling on Republicans to drop their blanket opposition and allow for a special session.
The comments from many officials on this issue are confounding.
Republican State Rep. Vincent Candelora of North Branford told a Capitol reporter that “Governor Malloy was the issue” with sports betting.
We all have our issues with the governor, but naked partisanship is not what got us a bipartisan budget last fall and it’s not going to help us reach an agreement that benefits Connecticut.
People seem to be asking a lot of questions, but few, if any, are asking the right questions.
Let’s be clear: People are betting on sporting events right now in Connecticut and in every other part of the country.
Our problem isn’t whether to allow sports betting or not. It’s already happening.
Our challenge is this: Do we want to be a part of the wave of states getting new money from regulating the sports betting that’s already happening?
I would absolutely vote “yes” on that measure.
Other Republicans question the timing of doing it now, in the height of the campaign season.
People running for office talk about changing many things, about creating new programs and advancing progress in our state.
But without new revenue, the reality is that many of the things people talk about on the campaign trail will never happen.
We have serious needs when it comes to our finances. We have important programs on the chopping block year in and year out.
Is sports betting the cure for all of our state’s ills? No, but here again it’s the wrong question to ask.
The real question: How can you go back to your constituents or the people you hope will become your constituents and tell them we’re going to cut funding for education or public safety or any of the critical programs that state funding supports while at the same time leaving millions of dollars on the table because we failed to act?
We simply cannot afford to fall behind our neighboring states yet again.
The tribes have been great partners of ours and have been willing to negotiate every step of the way. It’s time to get this done.
Connecticut used to be a place of real innovation. We were not just ahead of the curve; we set the curve. We bent its trajectory to our will and ushered in a wave of change.
Passing a law that implements sports betting isn’t the kind of radical change we had in the past, but it would at least send a message that we will not be stymied by partisan politics.
Let’s call and schedule a vote. And if it doesn’t pass, let the people who voted it down try to explain to their constituents why they wouldn’t bring in millions of dollars at a time when Connecticut residents need it most.
State Sen. Tim Larson serves the 3rd State Senatorial District communities of East Hartford, East Windsor, Ellington, and South Windsor.