- Rhode Island is the first New England state to open a sportsbook
- Sports betting became legal in Rhode Island in June
- The first sportsbook opened on November 26, 2018 at the Twin River Casino, Lincoln
- In its first full month in operation, it had an intake of $13m
First in New England
Rhode Island was the first state in New England to legalize sports betting, on June 20, 2018.
The first sportbook to open for business was the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, on November 26. Local dignitaries spoke at an opening ceremony and made the first bets.
Initially, the sportsbooks were set to open in October, but a number of delays led to its postponement. The Twin River Casino sportsbook is still in a temporary facility while its sports betting lounge is being built.
New England is made up of six states – New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Rhode Island has always been a state supportive of gambling. Its state lottery began during the 1970s. There are two racetracks in the state, which also have slot machines to help boost their revenues and allow them to stay open.
Casinos became legal in 2012, but online casinos are still not legal. There are two casinos in operation in the state at the moment.
The Rhode Island Lottery is in charge of regulating the sports betting sector. It also chose the state’s partners.
The International Game Technology (IGT) group is in charge of the gaming platform itself. William Hill is in charge of the risk management and operational systems for the sportsbooks. This deal is in place for at least five years, with options to extend it for an additional two terms of five years.
The state hopes to generate significant revenue from sports betting. Much of it will go towards investments in infrastructure such as bridges and roads, as well as educational programs.
There has been a strong reaction to the hefty tax rate of 51% on sports betting revenues. Of the remaining revenue, 32% will go towards the vendor and the other 17% goes to the casino.
The government estimated it would receive see tax revenues of about $32m in the first year of operation. However, this figure was downgraded to $12m because of the opening delay, and reflects missing out on the start of the college and pro football seasons.
First month’s figures
About $13m worth of sports bets were made in Rhode Island during the first month of business. This figure was for the month of December 2018 and covers those bets made at the Twin River Casino in Tiverton and Lincoln.
Winning bets reached $12.1m in winning bets, which means that revenues were around $950,000. After operating expenses and commissions, the state’s 51% take is of the residue.
With New England fans flocking to make bets on the Super Bowl, Rhode Island no doubt benefited from having the only legal sportsbook in the region and it was well prepared for the influx of bets for Super Bowl weekend.
People came from as far as Canada to place sports bets. More than a dozen tellers were working for the Super Bowl at the Lincoln sportsbook, compared with the usual four tellers. The casinos also extended their opening hours.
However, with most people placing bets on the Patriots to win, the casinos themselves will not generate much from these bets following the Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl victory.
The state government now hopes to generate about $11.5m by the end of June. There is also a proposal in place to allow online sports betting in the future.