In-Person Registration Limiting Rhode Island's Potential
Legal Sports Report

In-Person Signup Throttling RI Sports Betting Mobile Revenue, Account Growth

RI sports betting

Every month, Rhode Island looks more and more like a case study on why mobile sports betting shouldn’t be limited by in-person registration.

October’s RI sports betting handle grew 27.4% to $28.3 million over September, but mobile remained a small part of the picture. While mobile handle grew 78% over September to $5.9 million, it only accounted for 20.7% of handle share in October, according to the state’s report.

That’s up from 14.8% of total handle in September but still a long way from markets that don’t throttle the mobile sports betting market. Mobile sports betting handle accounted for 84% of total handle in New Jersey and 82% in Pennsylvania for October.

While the dollar amounts are much larger in NJ and PA, the main reason Rhode Island sports betting’s mobile share isn’t similar is likely the in-person requirement to activate mobile accounts.

The process, required by Rhode Island’s constitution, means downloading the Rhode Island Lottery sportsbook app isn’t enough. Those bettors need to travel to either of Twin River‘s casinos to activate those accounts.

RI sports betting accounts growing at steady pace

It’s still taking a while to get those potential mobile sports bettors to either casino to complete the sign-up process and activate their accounts.

There have been 17,199 registrations on the Rhode Island Lottery’s sportsbook app as of last week, according to the Department of Revenue. Of those downloads, just 7,834 people have completed the registration process and activated their accounts at either casino.

That’s just 45.5% of all mobile registrations leading to an active mobile RI sports betting account. That’s about the same pace Lottery Director Gerald Aubin reported in mid-October.

And activated accounts doesn’t mean they’re betting. Only 37.4% of active accounts have been funded to make bets as of Dec. 2.

It isn’t just potential tax revenue Rhode Island is missing. According to iDEA Growth, open iGaming and mobile sports betting regulation like New Jersey offers leads to consistent job and revenue growth.

Almost half a million bets

There have been more than 485,000 bets placed on the app since launched a day before the NFL season started in early September through Dec. 2.

The average Rhode Island bet shakes out to about $19. Apple devices like iPhones and iPads account for 70% of those bets, while Android-powered devices account for 23.4%.

Who’s using RI sports betting app

A third of the people registering on the Rhode Island sports betting app are out-of-staters, but 73.7% of the completed activations are from Rhode Island. That means of the 5,259 out-of-staters that signed up on the app, just 36.2% completed the process at one of Twin River’s casinos.

Those figures are based on 15,739 registrations, not the 17,199 total. Lottery officials did not explain the discrepancy before publication.

The out-of-state mobile registrations are coming from exactly where you’d think. Massachusetts leads the way with 4,925 registrations, followed by Connecticut with 509.

Leading the (Fen)way to Rhode Island

Both Twin River casinos are short drives from the Massachusetts border and are both about an hour drive from downtown Boston.

The figures don’t say how many from Massachusetts successfully activated accounts at those casinos. But that registration pace could start to die down thanks to another Massachusetts neighbor: New Hampshire.

DraftKings Sportsbook is expected to launch with full mobile in New Hampshire next month. That means all it will take is a drive over the border to start betting. That could feel much easier than filling out the information once online and then going to a physical location for confirmation.

DraftKings, of course, also comes armed with its database of daily fantasy sports players. A marketing push in Massachusetts could lead to more residents heading north instead of south to Rhode Island.

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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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