This is a developing story and will be updated.
Less than a year after launching two retail sportsbooks, Rhode Island sports betting is ready to go mobile.
Gov. Gina Raimondo signed into law S 37, a bill adding mobile RI sports betting to the state’s lottery-run operation. Raimondo also spurred the start of Rhode Island’s sportsbook operations last year by including sports betting revenue in her budget.
Rhode Island sports betting is legal at the state’s two casinos: Twin River Lincoln and Twin River Tiverton. Those casinos both opened their sports betting operations in 2018 and plan to expand into permanent space this year.
Twin River spokesperson Patti Doyle could not provide a timeline for launch, but said the product will be welcomed:
We’re grateful that our customers will have the opportunity to enjoy our sports betting amenity in a new and convenient way.
In addition to wagering in the Sportsbook Bar & Grill at Twin River in Lincoln, at other terminals throughout the casino floors at both Rhode Island venues, and most recently, at self service kiosks, our customers can opt to do so from the convenience of a mobile app.
We look forward to working with the State, the Division of Lotteries and our other partners in this new product roll-out.
Why mobile for Rhode Island sports betting?
Rhode Island might be one of the nation’s smallest states by size and population, but its neighbors dwarf it. The Twin River Tiverton property sits roughly an hour’s drive from Boston, and Massachusetts does not yet offer legal sports betting.
As expected, Rhode Island sports betting picked up noticeably around the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots involved. Rhode Island sportsbooks took a major loss on the big game, ending up about $2.3 million in the red with the Patriots victory and cover.
About 75 percent of spread bets in Rhode Island were on New England. Handle pushed past $6.5 million on the Super Bowl, and that’s with two casinos offering only retail RI sports betting.
How fast could Rhode Island go mobile?
The infrastructure to launch mobile RI sports betting quickly appears to be in place.
The state lottery oversees Rhode Island’s sportsbooks in concert with William Hill and IGT. William Hill’s app technology is available both in New Jersey and Nevada, so flipping the switch in Rhode Island seems straightforward.
The state lost $600,000 on sports betting in February, which certainly could hasten its desire to add mobile sooner than later.
Potential legal challenge looms in RI
The only potential stumbling block to mobile Rhode Island sports betting is a politically charged lawsuit threat.
The Rhode Island Republican Party is threatening to go to court over what it says is an expansion of gaming. Under Rhode Island law, an expansion would need to go before voters.
By adding sports betting via its state lottery, legislators thus far avoided any challenge to that mandate.