Mobile betting is underway in Rhode Island despite a pending court ruling that possibly could put the operation on ice. Mobile betting launched Wednesday at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., with minor issues, including slow performance of the app on some phones.
Last week, a judge heard arguments regarding Republican activist Daniel Harrop’s suit that argues the state should have sought voter approval of legalizing sports betting. Lawyers for the Rhode Island Lottery and Twin River Casino say Harrop lacks standing to sue.
The town of Tiverton, home to the state’s other casino – Twin River Tiverton Casino Hotel – which plans on launching mobile next week, requested a quick ruling from the court. The judge is expected to rule early next week.
In the meantime, Twin River (Lincoln) flipped the switch on its mobile app.
“We know this is something people want, and we expect it to be a popular option,” Grimaldi said, according to the news service.
Sports wagering went live around 3 p.m. ET with Twin River employees confirming bettors’ registration and activating accounts. Gamblers must register at Twin River, show a photo ID prior to placing their first bet. Registration at Twin River Tiverton will become available next week.
The Tiverton casino opened last year and was constructed less than a mile from the Rhode Island-Massachusetts state line in hopes of luring bettors from the Bay State. However, that nearness has prompted issues with the geo-location technology that ensures bets are coming from within the Rhode Island state line, according to the Providence Journal.
Lottery officials told the newspaper that bettors, depending on the type of phone they are using, may have issues using the wagering app if they are within 200 meters (650 feet) from the state line.
Officials say additional equipment, including a beacon, will be installed to guarantee the app and the “geofence” works properly.
Joe Franklin, Twin River regional executive director of cage operations, said the Twin River properties draw from both Massachusetts and Connecticut, which do not have legalized sports betting.
Franklin believes people won’t just stay home and bet but will still hit the casino floor.
“I truly believe you have to be here for the experience of the game, the crowd,” Franklin told the Journal from the Sportsbook Bar and Grill, chockfull of televisions, betting windows and tables with seating.
Thirteen states — Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia – have active betting sports betting operations. Five others — Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Tennessee, including the District of Columbia – have OK’d sports wagering but have yet to implement it.
View Sportsbook Review's USA sports betting tracker.