Rhode Island Sports Betting Set To Go Mobile
It’s been a long while coming but mobile sports betting is about to hit Rhode Island, and quite possibly before the start of the new NFL season.
Rhode Island sports betting – the story so far
Rhode Island became the eighth state to legalize sports betting, just months after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in May 2018, and in early 2019 lawmakers expanded the existing provisions to include online and mobile betting.
The original bill moved to allow the Rhode Island Lottery to administer and operate sports betting at the state’s two Twin River casinos, setting the legal gambling age at 18, unlike other states, where it is 21.
IGT, already the state’s lottery platform provider and the only bidder, along with its commercial partner William Hill were chosen as the end-to-end sports betting service provider
However, having gone live on November 26, 2018 at Twin River Lincoln – with Twin River Tiverton following suit a week later – it’s safe to say that revenue for all involved has been underwhelming so far.
Indeed, the state cut its annual revenue forecast from $23 million to $11.5 million after seeing early returns – handle topped out under $25 million in March – prompting a rewrite of the state’s sports betting law to allow statewide mobile betting.
Governor Gina Raimondo said at the time: “I think in the long run, the numbers are going to be what we thought, but we got a slower start, Maybe we should have known it was was going to be slower and forecasted accordingly. I also think the world is changing and actually the money is going to be on the [mobile] phone.”
Who benefits from mobile sports betting?
Bettors of course, although they must first walk into either the Lincoln or Tiverton casinos to sign up and unlock statewide access. The State and IGT, who take out a combined 83% (51-32%) of associated revenue, can also look forward to a big jump in handle – and in turn revenue – while Twin River, which takes the remaining 17% in return for floor space, also benefits.
Their two properties, which are situated close to the Massachusetts border, have seen a slump in sales in 2019 as a result of competition from the new Encore Boston Harbour, MA. So the imminent launch of sports betting can’t come soon enough.
While Rhode Island is a relatively small market – it’s the 7th smallest state in the US – it is the third most densely populated area in the country and it’s two state casinos are at least fairly accessible – about an hour from Boston and slightly further from Hartford.
It also has a regional monopoly when it comes to legal sports betting, although New Hampshire has also passed a law allowing statewide mobile betting and represents competition coming soon to the neighborhood.
With reigning Super Bowl champions New England Patriots kicking off their defense with a trip to the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 9th, it’s a safe bet that the two Rhode Island casinos will see plenty of betting action in the coming weeks. Indiana looks all set for its launch of mobile betting happening very soon.
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