The Tiverton Casino Hotel in Tiverton, Rhode Island opened its sportsbook to the public today at 3 p.m. EST.
Rhode Island sports betting is on fire, as this debut is the second in the Ocean State since last Monday. Tiverton’s, sister property, the Twin River Casino, first ushered Rhode Island into the growing fraternity of sports betting states as it officially took its first bets Nov. 26. Both casinos, which represent Rhode Island’s gaming industry, are owned and operated by Twin River Holdings.
The debut is the first big news for the Tiverton location, which opened its doors in September 2018. The new property replaced the Newport Grand Casino, which closed after 42 years of operation.
The property features 1,000 slot machines, 32 table games and an 84-room hotel. Now, it features wagering on sports, too.
Rhode Island not wasting any more time
The debuts in successive weeks may seem abrupt to outside observers. However, the launches come roughly two months later than expected.
State officials had planned for sports betting to begin Oct. 1. Gov. Gina Raimondo‘s budget included a $23.5 million expectation of tax revenue from the new business.
Then, Twin River Holdings and its partner, IGT, had some unspecified difficulties with integrating the systems. Unfortunately, the delay came during the middle of the NFL season, which is sports betting’s busiest time.
As a result, the revenue expectation is now $11 million less than before. So, time is of the essence in the minds of both casino personnel and state officials.
State administrators are especially interested in the casinos’ revenue because of the unique split of proceeds mandated in Rhode Island. The state expects to recover 51 percent of all sports betting revenue, a portion that exceeds that of any other state.
However, that high percentage of split coincides with the state working closely with Twin River Holdings to facilitate its business. As evidence of the depth of this relationship, Rhode Island Lottery officials were the principals in negotiating terms with IGT back in July 2018, not Twin River management.
Rhode Island rushes to be first to market in the area
Rhode Island is the eighth state to offer sports betting to residents and visitors. It is also the first state in the deep northeastern portion of the country to feature it.
The timing of the debuts was quite important for the Ocean State. As a state with both limited space and population, it could not afford to cede the first-to-market advantage on sports betting to its larger neighbors.
There are rumblings that nearby Massachusetts may be gearing up to legalize. However, as evidenced by DraftKings‘ online dominance in New Jersey, the first to cross the finish line can sometimes set themselves up as the market leader.
For certain, that’s what everyone in Rhode Island is hoping, anyway.