Mohegan Sun suspends WNBA bets over potential conflict of interest
The Mohegan Sun casino announced Monday that it has suspended wagering on the WNBA after questions were raised over a potential conflict in taking bets on the Connecticut Sun, a team also owned by the Mohegan Tribe.
The issue came up after Gov. Ned Lamont opened the sportsbook last Thursday, the first day of legalized sports betting in Connecticut, by placing a $50 bet on the Sun to win its playoff game with the Chicago Sky.
The wager captured the attention of some experts and state lawmakers concerned about a potential conflict of interest with the Mohegan Sun accepting bets on the Sun, which plays in the arena located at the casino complex.
Casino officials said Monday they decided over the weekend to suspend betting on the WNBA playoffs at the sportsbook.
“We are in the process of working with the WNBA to update our SOPs (standard operating procedures) and have decided to take WNBA wagering off until this is finalized," Jeff Hamilton, the Mohegan Sun's president and general manager, said in a statement.
When Connecticut lawmakers set up emergency regulations and legislation allowing for sports betting this fall, they barred Mohegan Sun employees, including those involved with the team, from placing bets at the sportsbook. They also prohibited anyone from betting on games involving UConn, Yale or any other university in the state.
But they did not prohibit the tribe from accepting bets on games involving the Connecticut Sun.
State Rep. Maria Horn, a Democrat who co-chairs the legislative committee that oversees gambling in Connecticut, said the potential conflict may be addressed in the next legislative session, when permanent regulations are approved for the state’s three approved sportsbooks.
“We had been more concerned that nobody with a substantial interest in that team could bet on the team,” she said Friday. “This is a major expansion (of gambling) and I would be very surprised if we got everything right in the first bite. I expect that we will go back and take a look at whether a tweak needs to be made.”
The WNBA and NBA have an agreement that allows third-party sportsbooks in arenas in which teams play as long as they are separated from all arena common areas and accessible solely by those who are legally able to gamble.
The league did not respond to specific questions about how it would address any potential conflict with the Mohegan Sun taking bets on the Sun.