XL Center in Hartford Set to Become Sports Betting Venue
XL Center Set to Become Sports Betting Venue: The Connecticut legislature passed sports betting last week, and the goal has been set for bets to be accepted by week one of the NFL season. The Connecticut Lottery and tribal casinos have begun planning to accept wagers in the fall.
The state’s sports betting bill declared that the lottery must establish a retail sportsbook in the capital city Hartford and Bridgeport. The Connecticut Lottery Corporation is zeroing in on a retail betting property in the capital at the XL Center, which is in the heart of downtown Hartford.
The Future Retail Sportsbooks
The XL Center would be the lottery’s major sportsbook in Hartford, but the property would not be ready by week one of the NFL season. A lottery spokesperson declared that the corporation would investigate smaller retail spots in Hartford to accompany the significant sportsbook at the XL Center.
The smaller locations are the primary focus currently because the lottery wants to accept bets by football season. The legislature has allowed the lottery to open 15 retail sportsbooks, which will give them more power than the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who offer landlocked casinos in eastern CT.
Sports Betting at the XL Center
The chairman of the lottery’s board and former executive at ESPN and NBC Sports, Rob Simmelkjaer, is determined to offer betting by September 9th. This goal is to not only take advantage of football season but to compete with the tribal casinos.
Sports betting at the XL Center is not only going to be a place for people to wager. It will be an aspect of a sports bar and lounge where bettors can wager and enjoy the games. There are also discussions that the venue would include live esports.
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The lottery does not want to rush this property, but this does not mean that the process is underway to implement the major sportsbook. Simmelkjaer talked to the Hartford Courant about his plans for the XL Center retail location.
“That’s going to be a plan that is going to involve significant investment, development, possibly construction, so it’s going to be a bit of a longer-term play. Therefore, we may look to have some short-term locations so we can get to market quickly.”
If all plans come to fruition for the sportsbook, it will not be fully built until the 2022 NFL season at the earliest. Although, there could be portions of the property that open earlier.
Sports betting could revive the XL Center, which is on the decline. The 46-year-old arena has struggled to stay profitable, which made Capital Region Development Authority cut a massive renovation effort from $250 to $100 million recently.
In the Meantime…
The Connecticut Lottery is not going to wait until 2022 for people in Hartford to wager. The other possible Hartford sportsbooks could be located at Winners on Brainard Road in Hartford, Shea’s Pizzeria and Sports Bar in Manchester, and Bobby V’s near Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.
These locations already offer off-track wagering through Sportech. Sportech could be given the right to extend off-track wagering to sports betting.
Tanner Kern is a writer for Knup Sports and the Sports 2.0 Network. He is the host of Between the Lines, the official show of Baseball Spotlight, and the main contributor for the website. Connect with Tanner on IG @tannerkern and Twitter @tannerkern_.