The New England sports betting landscape is changing fast. Rhode Island‘s first sportsbook launched last week, and its second kicks off today. MGM Springfield is clamoring to do the same in Massachusetts.
Plus, most New England lawmakers appear on board with the idea of legalizing and regulating sports wagering in 2019.
RI sports betting
Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI started taking bets on sports Monday, Nov. 26. The temporary sportsbook is in its renovated, smoke-free racebook on the casino’s third floor. A partnership between the Rhode Island Lottery, top US sports betting operator William Hill and software provider IGT is running the show.
IGT is the casino and lottery’s official sportsbook partner and William Hill provides odds and various other sports-betting services.
In the meantime, Twin River Casino has already started construction on an interactive, lounge-like sportsbook on the casino’s second floor. The permanent space will include lounge seating and additional TV screens for game viewing. Plans include a mid-December launch.
Additionally, Rhode Island’s other casino, Twin River Tiverton Casino and Hotel in Tiverton, which opened Sept. 1, begins taking bets today via kiosks.
Governor Gina Raimando signing the state’s sports betting bill into law in June, and Twin River’s quick response, gives Rhode Island a big head start on the rest of the New England market.
The state has to be hoping sports gamblers from neighboring states like Massachusetts and Connecticut place a few bets in Rhode Island before regulators there set up sports betting markets of their own.
Tribal casino negotiations have delayed the launch of sports betting in Connecticut to sometime in 2019.
Massachusetts lawmakers have a look
MGM Resorts, which recently opened the state’s first full-service casino, MGM Springfield, seem ready to make a hard push for it in 2019.
MGM Resorts appears to be going all in on sports betting. It has struck sports-betting related sponsorship deals with the NBA, NHL and MLB, so far this year. Plus, it is hoping to reap the benefits of these agreements in Massachusetts before long.
In fact, last week, an MGM spokesman told The Boston Herald in a statement it is ready to help Massachusetts legislators move forward anyway it can:
“We expect Massachusetts will consider legalization and look forward to working with policymakers on legislation that protects consumers, eradicates the illegal market and boosts the state through additional tax revenues and other economic benefits.”
According to the Herald, discussions have already begun and operators and regulators are targeting a September 2019 launch. This, of course, is just in time for the next NFL season.
One possible holdup
The one thing that could hold things up is getting the local industry to agree on whether online and mobile sports betting should be authorized. New Jersey sports betting market leader DraftKings Sportsbook is actually a Boston-based company.
DraftKings will push for online and mobile betting at home. However, casinos could push for betting to be limited to licensed gaming companies and their brick-and-mortar locations only.
Regardless, Boston College gaming expert Rev. Richard McGowan told the Herald all sides are sure to see the money flowing out of Massachusetts and into Rhode Island before long. Therefore, there will be pressure on the Massachusetts legislature to act on sports betting sooner rather than later.
The rest of New England
In the meantime, New Hampshire Sen. Lou D’Allesandro promised if he was re-elected in November, he will introduce a bill to legalize sports betting in the state when its next legislative session begins in January. Sen. D’Allesandro was re-elected.
Maine will also reportedly introduce sports betting legislation next year. However, Vermont Governor Phil Scott has gone on record as undecided on sports betting in that state. He did say he would be willing to listen to arguments. However, Gov. Scott does not believe sports betting is the answer to Vermont’s fiscal issues.
Regardless, if things move along as fast as they have been, almost all of New England could have legal sports betting by the time the 2019 NFL season kicks off.