Mobile Still Looking For An RI Boost
Legal Sports Report

The One Factor Holding Back Rhode Island Sports Betting Handle

Rhode Island sports betting

Rhode Island sports betting had a strong September showing as the start of the NFL season helped to more than double August’s handle.

Total handle for the state was $22.2 million, up 120.6% over August. The total was the second-highest ever for RI sports betting after the sportsbooks took bets totaling $23.6 million in March.

The breakdown, however, tells us more about Rhode Island’s early misstep with mobile. Just $3.3 million came from the mobile channel compared to $18.9 million at retail sportsbooks.

That could be attributed to Rhode Island’s in-person registration requirement for mobile, which is required by the state’s constitution.

Total revenue was $2.5 million. The state gets 51% of that total, followed by IGT‘s 32% cut for providing the platform. Twin River, which operates the state’s two casinos, takes 17%.

Breakdown of RI sports betting wagers

Sports betting is regulated and operated by the Rhode Island Lottery, though the state’s two casinos are the only retail locations where bets can be made.

Twin River in Lincoln held the lion’s share of retail handle with $15.3 million. Twin River’s other casino in Tiverton took roughly $3.6 million in bets.

That breakdown has everything to do with geographic location. Both sit near the border with Massachusetts and are both about an hour from downtown Boston.

Lincoln is just 7 miles outside of the capital, Providence. Lincoln is also toward the northern part of the state, making it more accessible to the rest of Massachusetts than Tiverton.

Mobile lagging in Rhode Island

There’s a good chance mobile Rhode Island sports betting handle would be significantly higher without the albatross of in-person registration.

Just last week, lottery officials stated only 45% of the more than 12,000 people that downloaded Rhode Island’s sports betting app completed the registration process by visiting either of Twin River’s casinos. Roughly 500 to 600 people are completing the registration process each week.

At that pace, there would still be some of the more than 12,000 that didn’t finish the signup process by the end of the NFL’s regular season.

More competition on the way?

Any RI sports betting dollars coming in from Massachusetts could slow down as early as December, if New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Lottery have anything to say.

New Hampshire just approved DraftKings Sportsbook, and will negotiate with the company for retail and mobile sports betting licenses. Intralot appears likely to get the lottery license.

Sununu is determined to place a bet on New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and the over before the end of this NFL season, he said.

New Hampshire will not limit mobile. That means anyone over 18 can download the app, complete the registration and be ready to bet as soon as they cross the state line.

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- Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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