In the United States, March tends to be one of the strongest months of the year for the gambling industry. The two casinos in Rhode Island held that trend in 2023, recording their strongest month of the year so far.
The two properties also demonstrated a slight improvement compared to their same-month numbers from a year ago. Looking ahead, there are both concrete and potential reasons to expect casinos to stay on an upward trajectory.
Rhode Island casinos see an 11% jump in March revenue
In the US casino industry, it’s typically more the tides than the ides of March. Rhode Island was no exception this year. With revenue from slots, sports betting, and table games combined, the Rhode Island Lottery reported a total of $65.1 million in gaming revenue for the month.
That includes win from:
- Bally’s Tiverton Casino
- Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort
- the Rhode Island Lottery’s online sportsbook
March 2023’s total mostly held steady from March 2022, representing an increase of about 4.2%.
Compared to the prior month in 2023, however, the numbers appear more favorable. Rhode Island casino revenue in February came to $57.8 million. However, that kind of improvement from February to March is typical. March typically contains three more days than February, for starters.
Additionally, casinos in many US jurisdictions often deal with unfavorable weather that can keep players at home more often in February than in March. Also in keeping with national norms, slot revenue accounted for most of the monthly increase.
In March, the two casinos compiled $48.4 million from slots. That represented an increase of $6.2 million from February. Table games also chipped in, increasing by about $800,000 to net casinos $12.8 million in March.
The last component of March’s improved returns was another unique element of the month.
March Madness correlates to revenue uptick in Rhode Island
While Super Bowl Sunday might be the biggest single sports betting day of the year in the US, that event can’t compete with the annual NCAA D1 men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments in terms of staying power. Thus, March is often one of the strongest months of the year for legal sports betting.
According to the Rhode Island Lottery, the state’s sportsbooks again played by the rules. Between the two physical and online sportsbooks in the state, bettors lost just shy of $4 million during the month. The total sum of dollars gambled on sports during the month was $41.5 million, meaning books kept around 9.3% of that money.
February’s revenue for Rhode Island sportsbooks sat at $3.6 million and March 2022 saw sportsbooks keep $3.7 million. Also showing that Rhode Island is more of the rule than the exception, most of the dollars wagered (72.2%) and revenue (74.3%) came from the Lottery’s online sportsbook in March 2023.
March’s slight year-over-year improvements in all categories keep 2023 on pace to best 2022 in terms of casino revenue. The question is simply how much. Two recent developments could boost that margin.
Online casino legislation and gaming floor expansion provide optimism
Bally’s Twin River recently opened a $100-million, 40,000-square-foot expansion to its gaming floor. The new area not only includes increased high-limit options but over 300 additional slot machines and more than 50 new gaming tables.
While there’s a guarantee that more will be more in terms of monthly revenue, the expansion could at least provide a temporary bump as Providence-area residents stop in to check out the new accommodations. Gaming numbers in both April and May could see a bump from people’s love of shiny, new things.
Speaking of shiny and new, a piece of legislation in the Rhode Island Senate could provide something else novel to the state; legal real-money online casino games. SB948 would allow Bally’s to offer its online casino product to eligible players in the state.
As of April 27, the bill had been assigned to the Senate’s Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs Committee. The bill does not appear on that committee’s agenda for May 3. Should the bill become law in its current form, it would have little revenue impact on Rhode Island casinos in 2023, though.
The current effective date of the act is set for Jan. 1, 2024. That could give Bally’s time to prepare for launching on that date, however. That would point to a small amount of economic impact from Bally’s getting its servers installed, regulatory work on the gambling expansion, and other preparations.
For the most part, Rhode Island’s casinos did what they were expected to do in March. Time will tell whether they can build on their momentum in the remainder of 2023.