The launch of Rhode Island mobile sports betting may not happen until the end of the year. However, it’s a good bet that Massachusetts residents will be driving across state lines to place bets on a RI Lottery mobile sports betting app before they’re able to do it at home.
Rhode Island Legislature approved the launch of mobile sports betting earlier this year. However, a source close to the process has told Legal Sports Report the goal is to give patrons the ability to bet remotely through the state’s lottery-run sports betting operation in the fourth quarter of 2019.
That means the New England Patriots season will likely start before Rhode Island mobile sports betting does. The NFL season kicks off in September, the end of the year’s third quarter.
Rhode Island retail sports betting
Rhode Island launched retail sports betting operations at Twin River Lincoln and Twin River Tiverton in late November. Long-time RI Lottery partner International Game Technology (IGT) and William Hill US run the day-to-day sports betting operations.
Revenues have fallen short of projections in part because of a late launch. Gov. Gina Raimondo has also been quoted saying that real sports betting money is in mobile operations.
Rhode Island sports betting operations did set a new monthly record in March, taking in $23.6 million in bets.
Twin River welcomes mobile sports betting
Twin River spokesperson Patti Doyle said they welcome the addition of a mobile sports betting product, following the RI Legislature’s approval:
“We’re grateful that our customers will have the opportunity to enjoy our sports betting amenity in a new and convenient way. In addition to wagering in the Sportsbook Bar & Grill at Twin River in Lincoln, at other terminals throughout the casino floors at both Rhode Island venues, and most recently, at self-service kiosks, our customers can opt to do so from the convenience of a mobile app. We look forward to working with the State, the Division of Lotteries and our other partners in this new product roll-out.”
However, it now appears they’ll have to wait a little longer before they can bet on mobile devices inside the state.
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Sports betting stalls in Massachusetts
Regardless, recent signs point to the RI Lottery mobile sports betting app going live long before anything similar does in neighboring Massachusetts.
In January of this year, a number of Massachusetts senators and Gov. Charlie Baker introduced five different bills looking to legalize and tax sports betting. Most include authorizing wagers on pro sports both online and at Massachusetts casinos.
It appeared the Massachusetts Legislature had put MA sports betting near the top of its agenda in 2019. Those five bills are being studied at the Senate committee level.
However, a $42.7 billion state budget unveiled by House Democratic leaders earlier this month shows that’s not necessarily the case.
In fact, the $35 million in revenue that the Gov. Baker administration anticipated coming from sports betting in the next fiscal year is not included in that budget.
Speaker Robert DeLeo told the Associated Press that’s a clear indication House Democrats want to take a slower approach to sports betting in Massachusetts:
“I think that is going to require a lot of discussion. I’m aware it could be an important source of revenue, but how we are going to do it … I don’t think it’s probably as easy as some people think it may be.”
For now, that means even a delayed Rhode Island mobile sports betting launch will likely come first. Something that will keep the revenue from Massachusetts residents betting on sports in the hands of their neighbors to the Southwest.