Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

April 22, 2024

Gambling proposal would change marketing regulations, expand betting on UConn, other CT college sports

MARK PAZNIOKAS | CT MIRROR A photo of Gov. Ned Lamont making a sports bet at Foxwoods.

State lawmakers are considering a multipart bill that overhauls parts of the state’s gambling regulations.

House Bill 5284 includes new rules for how sports betting and other games can be marketed, and expands the ability of Connecticut bettors to legally wager on in-state college sports, including UConn basketball and football games. 

Current state statutes only allow wagers on games involving Connecticut college teams when they’re in a tournament consisting of four or more teams, meaning fans can bet during competitions like the recent NCAA March Madness tournament, but not on most regular season games.

The bill, which was introduced and approved by the Public Safety and Security Committee earlier this session and is now awaiting further action in the House, removes those betting restrictions, but still bans bets placed on individual players, also known as prop bets. 

House Bill 5284 includes a number of other changes, particularly around how sports betting and other age-restricted games can be marketed. 

The bill adds new restrictions on marketing that targets young people who aren’t legally allowed to gamble, a move that’s been praised by the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. 

In Connecticut, individuals must be at least 18 years old to legally play keno, buy lottery tickets and play in fantasy sports contests, and at least 21 years old for online or in-person casino gaming or sports wagering.

The bill restricts the use of ads with “images, symbols, celebrity or entertainer endorsements, or language” designed to advertise to people under those age limits, and prevents gambling advertisements from being placed in front of young audiences, among other things.

The bill also allows a strict form of so-called affiliate marketing, which has raised some concerns from various interest groups. 

Affiliate marketers, like third-party websites, are used to drive traffic to online sportsbooks, but their use in Connecticut has been restricted. 

The bill allows sports betting operators to compensate a third party marketer for sending traffic to their websites. However, that compensation can’t be based on the number of people who sign up for services and actually place wagers. 

States, including Massachusetts and New York, have also recently been debating the role of third-party marketing in sports betting. 

Sports betting operators in Connecticut, including the Connecticut Lottery Corp. and Fanatics, raised concerns about the proposal because they say it could be too costly to compensate marketers simply for sending traffic to their websites.

It’s an inefficient business model, they say.

“If marketing affiliates were to be compensated just on click-throughs without the additional step of having the patron create an account and place a minimum deposit in that account, those marketing affiliates would logically focus their strategy on targeting the largest number of individuals including people who aren't interested in sports betting,” said Arthur Mongillo, CT Lottery’s public affairs manager. “Connecticut's the only state in the country with legalized and regulated sports betting that has basically excluded affiliate marketing from the industry because they banned all of the economically feasible forms of compensation.”

Mongillo said the lottery wants legislators to take this language out of the bill and defer the affiliate marketing discussion to next year after negotiating a mutually agreed upon proposal.

Bryan Cafferelli, commissioner of the state Department of Consumer Protection, submitted testimony in opposition to third party marketing, arguing it would require increased oversight by his agency and would be “to the detriment of problem gambling and responsible gaming objectives,” in the state.

Additional oversight

The CT Lottery is lobbying against another section of the bill that requires lottery draw games to be vetted, tested, and certified by an independent third party. That change, according to lawmakers, would bring those traditional lottery games into alignment with the state’s online gaming systems, which do currently require third-party testing.

Mongillo said the CT Lottery thinks third-party testing is unnecessary because the state Department of Consumer Protection already has the authority in existing regulations to conduct its own testing when the agency deems it necessary. The lottery also does its own testing internally before rolling out new games, and Mongillo said the agency thinks third-party testing would come with significant additional costs.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF