The tiny state of Rhode Island is ready to launch sports betting, becoming the first New England state to do so.
Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI will start taking bets at a casino sportsbook operated by the state lottery, top US sports betting operator William Hill, and software provider IGT, on Monday, Nov. 26 at 3 p.m. ET.
IGT will be the official sportsbook partner with William Hill providing odds and various other sports-betting services.
Additionally, Rhode Island’s other casino, Twin River Tiverton Casino and Hotel in Tiverton will reportedly launch associated sports betting kiosks allowing its customers to make bets with the sportsbook in December. The Tiverton casino operation just opened Sept. 1.
Patti Doyle, spokeswoman for Twin River, said the property will open up its sportsbook in a phases.
Phase one will see the casino start taking bets on sports in the renovated smoke-free racebook area on the third floor. Phase two will include the launch of an interactive, lounge-like sportsbook on the second floor.
However, according to Doyle, it will not be ready to open until early to mid-December. The lounge-like sportsbook will feature additional screens for game viewing and more seating.
Rhode Island sports betting regulations
The Rhode Island Department of Revenue is projecting state revenue from sports betting will hit $23.5 million in the current fiscal year, ending June 30, 2019.
The state passed a Senate budget bill that included authorizing sports betting at its two casinos in January 2018. However, Governor Gina Raimando did not sign the bill into law until June.
All sides were hoping to launch by October 2018. However, a delay in completing state sports betting regulations pushed the opening of the state’s first sportsbook to this week.
The law requires sportsbooks to fork over a whopping 51 percent of gross sports betting revenue to the state in taxes. Plus, the five-year IGT/William Hill deal will see it take another 32 percent, leaving the casinos just 17 percent of gross revenues.
The current law does not allow for online and mobile sports wagering. However, legislators have promised to take a long and hard look at it in the near-future. In fact, President of the Rhode Island State Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio said he believes the state will pass legislation authorizing online and mobile sports wagering in 2019.
Ruggerio also said Department of Revenue state sports betting revenue projections should hold true despite the delay in launching.
Betting on the neighbors
With a population of just over 1 million people in Rhode Island, the casinos and its sports betting partners have to be banking on bets coming in from neighboring states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Massachusetts (6.86 million) and Connecticut (3.588 million) boast a population of over 10 million people combined. However, neither state has launched legal sports betting to date. That gives Rhode Island the opportunity to attract what is widely considered a large and lucrative Northeast sports betting market in the interim.
Tribal casino negotiations have pushed the launch of sports betting in Connecticut into 2019. Plus, although Massachusetts could conceivably pass sports betting legislation in 2019, nothing is set in stone.
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US sports betting
Since the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports betting in May, six other states have launched legal and regulated sports betting. These states are:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- New Mexico