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Sports Betting in Rhode Island Begins After Thanksgiving

Date Posted: November 21, 2018

The state of Rhode Island (RI) will start offering sports betting around Thanksgiving.

There is no definite date yet to when sports betting will be legal in the Ocean State. But according to the Boston Globe, Twin River Casino in Lincoln will start accepting sports wagers by the end of Thanksgiving weekend which will be just in time for college football rivalry week. Twin River Casino in Tiverton will also open a sportsbook by December coinciding with the NCAA football championship games.

Placing sports wagers through mobile betting is still not legal until next year, but bettors can look forward to visiting betting windows in casinos. A brick-and-mortar sports betting area in the Twin River Casino is actively under construction as the hotel prepares for its opening.

Nicole Dotzenrod, a reporter from Blackstone Valley’s local newspaper The Valley Breeze, tweeted pictures of Twin River’s construction last November 15 with the caption:

“Twin River Casino plans to roll out phase one of its sports betting offerings in Lincoln sometime next week (specific date TBD). Pictured, a full sports lounge is currently under construction and set for a mid-December opening.”

A sports betting lounge will also be added to the area by December. It will have screens that will display live national games and their odds. There will also be a space where bettors can grab a beer and burger while watching games.

During the commencement of RI’s sports betting legalization, the state will permit only limited betting options. Prop bets or novelty bets will not be available as the casinos have not prepared for such yet.

When RI’s sportsbooks are fully operating, the Ocean State is expected to gain US$23.5 million in tax revenue from sports betting by summer of 2019. This is a 51% revenue boost that will come from sports betting alone. However, the numbers can change as neighboring states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut can open their doors to sports betting and add to the competition.

RI is the only state in New England that has legalized sports betting. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts have not taken any action yet while Connecticut is considering legalizing sports betting. With this, RI casinos can cater to bettors from neighboring states.

New England Sports betting Legalizations

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Being that Twin River will be the first and only legal sportsbook to operate in the northeastern region, Mike Barlow, Senior Vice President of Property Operations of Twin River Management Group, said:

“I see folks from Connecticut, from Massachusetts all coming. New Hampshire. Why not? We’re the only game in town.”

However, bettors from outside RI can easily place their wagers illegally through offshore websites and bookmakers via their mobile or computers rather than traveling to the Plantation State. David Cacciatore, a sports bettor from Massachusetts told the Boston Globe that it is unlikely that he will travel all the way to RI just to bet on sports.  He said:

“People who bet on a more consistent basis . . . I don’t know that they’d be winning that crowd over, because of the convenience of going to that local guy and betting through your phone or your laptop.”

On the other hand, Cacciatore stated that the casino’s in-house sportsbook could attract guests to place wagers even if they did not have the original intention of doing so. He added:

“It’s going to be more exciting for the people who don’t normally bet on sports. You’re going to have the people who go to the casinos occasionally for a good time. Sometimes people don’t play blackjack or roulette, so they look forward to betting on the games and having a couple of beers at the sports bar.”

The Ocean State’s original plan was to launch sports betting back in October. But negotiations with the sports betting services vendor took longer than expected, hence the delay. It also held back the state US$5 million in operations.

Dominick Ruggerio, President of the Rhode Island State Senate, said:

“I’m very disappointed because we depended on that [sports betting] revenue for a number of things affecting this coming year’s budget.”

The state needed only to start sports betting operations before the new year in order to meet the expected revenue budget that the state has projected. And starting operations around Thanksgiving and December could be a perfect way for the state to generate revenue as the dates are in line with big sporting events.

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