HARTFORD — Tuesday was a busy day at the Capitol. Key bills were up for discussion on topics like juvenile offenders, sports betting and the lottery.
Police Chiefs took their seats to testify in favor of House Bill 7332. It would impose tougher penalties for juvenile offenders who steal cars.
“We have repeat offenders,” said Chief Edward Stevens of the Wolcott Police Department. “Over and over and over. This new bill would be a strike 3 bill where after so many times it would go to the adult courts,” he said.
It’s a growing public problem. Fox 61 covered the story of a stolen vehicle from Waterbury in January. The owner left it running with the keys inside. The teen suspect ran away as a vehicle caught fire. “You have the young kids stealing nowadays who most don’t have licenses who are going to hurt if not themselves, others,” said Chief Stevens. The bill adds car thefts to the crimes that would get a young person charged as an adult if they’ve been convicted of it twice before.
But gambling dominated the public testimony.
House Bill 7331 would make sports betting in Connecticut a slam dunk. Dan Spillane represents the NBA. “We’re here to make sure that if sports betting is implemented it’s done in the right way. In a way that protects consumers and protects the integrity of competitions and that insures the marketplace is going to shift people who are betting in illegal markets to legal markets.”
The tribes that run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods think they should have the exclusive rights. “The tribes are always going to say that,” said Ted Taylor, the President of Sportech Venues in New Haven. “I understand their point of view. This is one area where the tribes don’t have an exclusivity and we prefer that opinion.”
Two other bills would slow the roll on gambling by first authorizing studies on their societal impact. “There need to be a study done on the social and economic cost to casinos every 10 years. The last study was done in 2008 so we are due. We’re here today because we really want to make sure the study is done by an expert,” explained Michele Mudrick, the Director of the Coalition Against Casino Expansion.
The Connecticut Lottery Corporation showed up in favor of a bill that would allow them to offer draw games online. Greg Smith is the corporations President. “The idea that if sales in retail go down and we don’t attract the next demographic of players, lottery profits may not continue to grow as the have been.”