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Connecticut Lottery seeks locations to launch sports betting in Bridgeport


The Connecticut Lottery Corporation is currently considering at least three potential locations to launch the wagering retail site in Bridgeport that was stipulated in the law passed earlier this year. 

Andrew Walter, the Lottery’s director of business and legal affairs for sports betting confirmed that the new amphitheater, the entertainment arena and the Steelpointe redevelopment site are in the running. The city owns the first two, privately-managed locations. 

Amphitheater operator Howard Saffan, who built the venue out of Bridgeport’s shuttered minor-league baseball stadium, and a representative for the developer of Steelpointe, the Christoph family, confirmed the Lottery’s interest in their respective locations. However, Walter assured the Lottery has not negotiated with any party.  

The Lottery earlier this month issued a formal solicitation for sports wagering retailers. Ultimately Connecticut will have 15 locations. Nine of those are already assigned through a partnership between the Lottery and Sportech, leaving interested parties to vie for the remaining half-dozen.

Sportech until mid-September ran the now-vacant, Bridgeport-based Winners Shoreline Star off-track horse betting facility that pre-dated the expanded online gaming and sports wagering bill Governor Ned Lamont signed in May.

Sportech has locations in other areas of the state, including Stamford, New Haven and Hartford, either under the Winners branding or Bobby V’s restaurant/sports bar locations.

Walter sees Sportech locations attractive as “they are already gambling establishments. So they are built out, they have cashiers and appropriate security protocols for handling large amounts of cash”. 

Shoreline Star has been on the market for a year. Walter indicated the Lottery itself is not interested in opening it back up. As reported by the Connecticut Post, the agency’s intent as it hunts for the remaining six retail locations is to identify partners with existing businesses or detailed future plans. “The goal is to start a conversation, not bind somebody to a contract”, he said. 

He also pointed out three business models the Lottery can consider: Bobby V’s-style entertainment destinations, other types of restaurants/local sports bars, and no-frills in-and-out retailers where sports bettors can place their wagers on their way back home from work. “We’re going to want to do something there to maximize sports betting retail sales. I don’t see it as the ‘come and go’ type place”.

However, the possibilities of having a larger facility to that end could face some opposition, given the fact that city officials have tried and failed to get a large casino/entertainment center built in town for the past few decades. 

Representative Christopher Rosario agreed with Walter and stated that, after a “long and very hard” fight to get sports betting legalized, they would “be unhappy” with “a little betting kiosk”. 

Rosario said the goal is to make the Lottery’s Bridgeport partner “a destination point” with other major attractions like the amphitheater that opened in July and the 20-year-old arena and its American League Sound Tigers hockey tenants.

Even though there are no certainties, the estimated timeline for opening a Bridgeport location is “the first part of 2022”, as Walter indicated. 

The city’s economic development director, Thomas Gill, said his department is not involved in any negotiations. However, he stated that “no matter where they go, we want to make sure it’s a well-designed, well-suited facility. We don’t want some hole-in-the-wall gambling place”. 

“The Lottery doesn’t exist to make a profit and keep it. We exist to turn that over to the state and that’s what my marching orders are for Bridgeport and other several places”, Walter concluded, reiterating the Lottery’s desire to establish a gambling destination in Bridgeport for practical financial reasons.

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