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Connecticut Lawmakers Aim To Please Everyone With Online Gambling

Connecticut lawmakers do not intend to be left out of the online gambling explosion that is expected to take place in the US over the next decade. Connecticut has been ahead of the curve in the gaming industry, and the lawmakers pushing for regulated Internet gambling are hoping to keep it that way.

In order for the legislators to get any bill through this year, however, the legislation will have to be crafted in a way that pleases many different groups. There are anti-gambling lawmakers that need to be appeased, along with legal experts, business leaders, and the two existing tribal casinos in Connecticut.

"This is a major money issue and there are a lot of players involved," said state Representative Stephen Dargan, Chairman of the Public Safety and Security Committee.

Dargan understands the mountain is steep to arrive at regulated online casinos, but he also believes that the money that could be generated will outweigh the challenge. The idea that Connecticut could be a leader into an industry that is expected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to state budgets is reason enough to fight for the regulations and tax structure.

"We don't want to sit back if there's other competition from states around us," said Dargan. "I think it's important that we're out in front. We need to look at the positives and the negatives and see if it's good public policy."

Other states have already started that process. In recent weeks, New Jersey state Senator Raymond Lesniak has pushed an online gambling bill, and Nevada and Washington DC have passed online gambling laws last year. Iowa, Florida, new York, and Hawaii all have lawmakers that are considering proposing Internet gaming regulations in the current session.

In Connecticut, a deal will have to be brokered between the state and the tribe's that operate Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos. The tribe's gained the rights to offer casino gambling through compacts, and if the state adds online casinos, the tribe's would have to receive a sweetener to their current deal. Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have exclusive rights to offer slot machines in Connecticut under their current deal. In exchange, the tribe's pay the state a quarter of their revenue from the machines.

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