New England now can place legal wagers as Rhode Island sports betting kicks off today at Twin River Casino in Lincoln.
Rhode Island sports betting took longer than anticipated to begin, but the state soon will have two casinos taking wagers. In addition to the Lincoln property, Twin River will offer sports betting at its new facility in Tiverton.
The state lottery operates RI sports betting. IGT and William Hill will partner to run both sportsbooks in the Ocean State.
RI sports betting better late than never
Rhode Island sports betting became possible earlier this year. Governor Gina Raimondo inserted sports betting — and $23.5 million in associated tax revenue — into her proposed budget. Legislators passed that budget in June, but state and casino officials said fall would be their target for launch.
Twin River representatives first pegged October for the start of Rhode Island sports betting. They later pushed back that opening date because of unforeseen integration issues.
Delaying the start of RI sports betting until it can be done properly, of course, makes sense. The long game, though, presents a short-term issue for Rhode Island: slashed budget projections.
Missing the football boat is costly
State analysts estimate the delay from October to beyond Thanksgiving will cost Rhode Island $12 million in revenue. Missing two-thirds of football season and a Boston Red Sox World Series run hurt the state significantly.
Raimondo’s initial projection appears based on $900 million in handle. For a state with just more than one million residents, that forecast looked aggressive without factoring in the Boston area, which sits a little more than an hour’s drive from Lincoln. It now will be cut roughly in half.
Rhode Island sports betting revenue most directly benefits the state because it serves as the operator. Here’s how revenue distribution breaks down in Rhode Island:
- State: 51 percent
- IGT: 32 percent
- Casino: 17 percent
What to expect at the Twin River book
Twin River spokesperson Patti Doyle details how the Lincoln casino will phase in legal sports betting starting today.
The first phase includes “sports betting terminals located on the third floor adjacent to Simulcast Racing; additional sports betting terminals are located in the first-floor grandstand and will be online during peak hours. Odds boards and wall-mounted, as well as countertop, TV monitors are situated throughout the sportsbook.”
The Twin Rivers kiosks will take bets on NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL games. They also will accept wagers on NCAA football and basketball games not involving Rhode Island schools.
Scheduled for a mid-December opening, the book’s second phase will be more expansive. The 3,600-square-foot lounge will seat 200 people, with about 100 TVs.