Rhode Island Sports Betting Launch Delayed Until November

Written By Kim Yuhl on August 27, 2018 - Last Updated on December 6, 2023
Rhode Island Sports Betting Launch Delayed Until November

Once a state approves sports betting, the race begins to launch a sportsbook to capture as much revenue as possible. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Rhode Island.

Residents of the Ocean State will now have to wait until November to place their first sports wagers.

The state legislature passed a sports betting bill in June. At the time, Twin River Casino spokesperson Patti Doyle told Legal Sports Report that the casino was looking forward to an October launch.

It seems that statement was a bit premature. An agreement with International Game Technology (IGT) and William Hill to provide sports betting services just happened this past week. A delay is not surprising considering the recent developments.

IGT and William Hill bring sports betting to Rhode Island

Sports betting falls under the purview of the Rhode Island Lottery. The state’s two casinos, Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Tiverton will be the exclusive hosts of retail sportsbooks. Twin River Casino Tiverton is still under construction. The casino plans to open in September.

A press release last week announced a five-year contract between the Lottery and IGT and William Hill to provide sports betting operations in the state. IGT, the state’s designated sports betting partner, was the lone bidder for the contract.

Gerald Aubin, director of the Rhode Island Lottery, spoke about the partnership in the release:

“It’s an exciting time for the Rhode Island Lottery. With the introduction of legalized sports betting, we will leverage world-class resources and technology from IGT and William Hill to provide the best-possible sports betting experience for the patrons who visit our casinos.”

The contract outlines both retail and mobile sportsbooks — with some caveats. Bettors can wager through a mobile sports betting app provided they are on one of the two casino properties. This is similar to Mississippi sports betting regulations.

According to the agreement, 51 percent of the sports betting revenue goes to the state, 32 percent to the vendor and 17 percent to the casino.

“The combination with William Hill US uniquely positions us to provide the Rhode Island Lottery with a comprehensive, market-ready solution to maximize sports betting revenues and returns to good causes for the state of Rhode Island,” said Renato Ascoli, IGT CEO, North America.

IGT continues to expand its US casino and sports betting presence

The partnership with the Rhode Island Lottery follows the approval of the London-based company’s interim license for West Virginia sports betting. The West Virginia Lottery Commission authorized IGT to launch its sports betting platform, PlayShot, in West Virginia in mid-August.

Not long before its approval in West Virginia, IGT announced it inked a deal with Boyd Gaming to power its retail sportsbook operations at two Mississippi casinos.

IGT already had a strong presence in Nevada before the repeal of PASPA and a relatively recent agreement with FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey. IGT is proactively spreading its influence across the U.S. No doubt, it is nowhere close to done making headlines in the space.

Rhode Island has lofty sports betting revenue goals

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo submitted a state budget that included $23.5 million in revenue from sports betting. It seems a stretch that a massive 51 percent cut of the revenue would contribute that much to the state’s coffers.

To earn $23.5 million, the two casinos will need to post a revenue number of about $46 million. In 2017, Nevada posted nearly $250 million in sports betting revenue.

  • Nevada was the only state with legalized sports betting
  • The Silver State has triple the population of Rhode Island
  • Nevada is home to a mature and highly competitive sports betting market
  • Rhode Island will be competing for bettors with New Jersey, Pennsylvania and possibly New York in the near future
  • A November launch means the state will miss half of the football betting season

On paper, it seems highly unlikely Rhode Island will be able to command enough sports betting interest to generate what would equal 20 percent of Nevada’s revenue.

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while traveling around the world. You can learn more about her work and travels at kimyuhl.com.

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