by David Fidlin
Connecticut’s gaming revenue continues to grow and evolve since the heaviest pandemic-induced shutdowns impacted the income source two years ago.
A five-year analysis of the state’s gaming-derived revenues, gleaned from data via the state Department of Consumer Protection, shows how COVID-19 intermittently impacted the bottom line during the heaviest lockdowns before regaining momentum.
According to state records, transfers to the general fund from gaming revenue have fluctuated since fiscal year 2018.
Five years ago, Connecticut received $628.43 million in gaming revenue and inched upward to $637.72 million in fiscal year 2019.
However, in fiscal year 2020 – the period when COVID-19 lockdowns were heaviest and most impactful – the state saw an $83.87 million year-over-year decline, as revenues fell to $553.85 million.
As pandemic protocols eased throughout fiscal year 2021, income still dwarfed the figures from two years prior but was rebounding, with $634.81 million in revenue generated.
Figures from fiscal year 2022 show continued acceleration, outpacing fiscal year 2019 figures. A total of $667.19 million was transferred to the state’s general fund, according to the Department of Consumer Protection.
Connecticut receives gaming revenue from a variety of sources, including the lottery, which has been a mainstay since it was launched in 1972.
Over time, other sources have also been a part of the equation, including the two casinos operated by Native American tribes: the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard and the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville.
More recently, state officials have gone on record in support of pandemic-proof online gaming platforms to augment the various revenue sources, which also includes off-track betting, charitable games and sports wagering.
State data indicates game revenue during fiscal year 2022 rebounded and surpassed pre-pandemic figures, in part, because of the introduction of new online gaming systems.
According to figures, the introduction of online sports wagering in fiscal year 2022 brought in $7.78 million in revenue.
Also in the mix were on-reservation online casinos on the premises of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, which yielded $30,937 to the state’s bottom line this past fiscal year, and off-reservation online casino games, which brought in $25.61 million in revenue.
Recent announcements from state officials indicate a willingness to double down on online gaming platforms.
Last month, Gov. Ned Lamont touted the introduction of Fairfield-based Evolution, a live casino operator for digital platforms. It launched in mid-July and is reportedly planning to hire 400 people at its studio.
“Connecticut has proven to be a leader when it comes to the gaming economy going back decades, and this expansion allows those who want to participate to continue doing so, responsibly,” Lamont said in the announcement.
Michelle Seagull, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, said the addition of Evolution to the broader spectrum of gaming programs and platforms will provide new revenue opportunities in the road ahead.
“We are proud of the hard work our gaming division has done to ensure Evolution’s facilities and offerings meet the high standards set by our regulations to create a safe and successful opportunity for live dealer games in Connecticut’s online gaming marketplace,” Seagull said in a statement.
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David Fidlin is a regular contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Woman Playing a Computer Game” by RODNAE Productions.