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While Rhode Island OKs Sports Betting, NY Misses The Boat

Written By Kim Yuhl | Updated:
Providence, RI skyline

Sports betting legislation continues to dominate headlines as states work feverishly to pass bills before legislative sessions break for the summer or end for the year.

Some states, like Michigan, have not been successful in their quest to legalize sports betting. Others, like New Jersey, and now Rhode Island have.

On the heels of New Jersey accepting its first sports bets last week, Rhode Island becomes the latest state to send a sports betting bill to the governor’s desk.

On Wednesday, the House voted 66-7 for a $9.6 billion budget plan that includes regulating sports betting. The Senate then voted 34-2 to do the same.

All that’s left is the signature of Gov. Gina Raimondo to bring legalized sports betting to the Ocean State. Raimondo is the original author of the bill. Even though there were amendments along the way, expect her signature soon.

Rhode Island on the verge of legalizing sports betting

Sports betting will fall under the watch of the Rhode Island Lottery.

IGT is expected to provide the platform for sports betting in the state. It has been Rhode Island’s land-based and online lottery platform provider for the past 15 years. IGT also happened to be the sole bidder for the sports betting contract

The bill only legalizes land-based sports betting. The Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton will serve as “host communities for sports wagering” and receive $100,000 each for the administrative duties.

Partnerships with IGT and the Twin River casinos are not official yet. Formal agreements must wait until the bill becomes law.

The targeted launch date for the first sports wager is Oct. 1. The state is predicting first-year revenue projections of $23.5 million. That would require casinos to accept around $900 million in wagers.

The state will collect 51 percent of the revenue with the remaining shared between the vendor (32 percent) and the casino (17 percent).

How realistic are Rhode Island’s revenue projections?

Legal Sports Report provided a thorough analysis of the Rhode Island sports betting bill and its revenue projections.

The basic gist of the reporting is the revenue projection is “optimistic.”

It seems unlikely the state will bring in $900 million in wagers without mobile sports betting or betting outside of Lincoln and Tiverton.

Basically, the figure of $900 million represents about 20 percent of Nevada‘s annual handle. Think about that.

Nevada has three-times the population and a mature sports-betting market that has had a monopoly on sports betting until recent weeks.

Brenna McCabe, a spokesperson for the Administration, told the Providence Journal the state’s Office of Management and Budget produced the estimate. McCabe also mentioned there was no guidance from the state’s consultant, Spectrum Gaming Group recognized for its expertise in the economics of legalized gambling.

The national landscape for legalized sports betting

The U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) opened the door to legalized sports betting across the U.S. As expected, several states are anxious to capitalize on the revenue possibility it will gain from sports betting.

To date, two states joined Nevada in offering sports betting:

Rhode Island will join that list shortly.

Technically, New York has legalized sports betting. A 2013 law may allow limited sports betting. However, it is unclear how it will be implemented.

A comprehensive sports betting bill will have to wait until the 2019 legislative session. On the same day that Rhode Island passed its sports betting law, the New York legislature closed its session without passing one of its own.

Three other states have pending sports betting regulations and expect to accept sports wagers soon:

More states are likely to take up the topic of sports betting come fall when state legislatures re-open for business.

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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

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