Rhode Island to Offer Sports Betting

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Rhode Island will become the next state in the U.S. to offer legalized sports betting to its residents.

Betting could begin as soon as Thanksgiving Day at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln – just in time for college football’s rivalry week, always a huge weekend in sports.

The sports betting start-up occurs after a nearly two-month delay from the original planned launch of Oct. 1. The delay was prompted by extended negotiations with IGT/William Hill, which will operate the sportsbook.

The Associated Press reports IGT and the state have a five-year contract for the company to manage the sportsbook. According the agreement, 51 percent of sports betting revenue will go to the state, William Hill will get 32 percent, with Twin River taking home 17 percent of revenues.

By opening this weekend, however, Rhode Island gets a jump on nearby states that have yet to approve legal sports betting.

“I see folks from Connecticut, from Massachusetts all coming. New Hampshire. Why not?” Mike Barlow, who heads up operations for the company that owns both of Rhode Island’s casinos told The Boston Globe. “We’re the only game in town.”

Bettors can lay their money down in the third-floor betting room at the Twin Rivers Casino. It is expected that betting from mobile devices will begin sometime in 2019.

In December, Twin River is expected to open a glittery sports betting lounge, where bettors can grab dinner and a drink and watch live games and check live odds on big screens.

The new Tiverton Casino also should begin taking bets in December, about the time when college football bowl games are beginning.

Since May, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban on sports betting, sportsbooks are running in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi and New Mexico. Nevada, of course, has had legalized gambling since 1931, when the state legislature gave the OK with the hopes of lifting the state out of the Great Depression.

Anticipating sports betting beginning in the fall, Rhode Island lawmakers in October passed a budget with expectations of $23.5 million in gambling revenues being raised.

The nearly two-month delay in implementation, while details were being worked out with IGT, the state lost nearly $5 million in revenues. During that time, Rhode Island bettors missed out wagering on the World Series, the first weeks of the NHL and NBA seasons and several weeks of NFL games.

Some restrictions on Rhode Island betting also may impact revenue projections.

Beyond the 2019 launch of mobile betting, the state’s casinos are not taking prop bets, wagers on the probability of certain actions happening during a sporting event. For example, how many field goals a kicker may make or miss or if a golfer will hit a hole-in-one.

Those restrictions may prompt gamblers to send their business elsewhere, such as offshore website impacting state coffers.

It is anticipated the state will make up for those lost revenues.


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