New RI Sports Betting Bill Shows It’s Never Too Late To Do The Right Thing

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RI sports betting

File the latest RI sports betting news under the ‘better late than never’ category.

A bill introduced Wednesday in the Rhode Island House would finally allow for remote registration of sports wagering accounts. H 8097 would make Rhode Island sports betting more competitive by eliminating the in-person registration signup requirement.

Sports bettors in Rhode Island live in a gray area right now. They can begin the registration process on their device but still must visit one of two casinos to finish the process.

This bill would streamline the signup process through Twin River Casino and put Rhode Island on equal footing with neighboring New Hampshire.

RI sports betting signups less than ideal

Rhode Island sports betting opened up in November 2018, making it one of the first new markets in the US. Legislators are working incrementally to bring the market into the modern era after early missteps.

A lackluster first year without mobile prompted lawmakers to add the option in the 2019 legislature. Yet the requirement to sign up in-person for mobile RI sports betting limited growth and dampened revenue projections.

In fact, of the 23,564 mobile registrations through March 4, just 43.3% went to one of the Twin River casinos to complete the process. That number drops to 35.2% when factoring in customers funding their accounts.

Rhode Island mobile revenue share prior to the coronavirus pandemic hovered between 28-31%. That ranks by far last in mobile US sports betting revenue, well behind Nevada‘s roughly 50%.

New bill makes simple changes

The bill from Reps. Nicholas Mattiello and Marvin Abney removes just 16 words to modernize the RI sports betting law. The definition of an online gaming account changes to:

“an account opened by a patron that such patron shall use for the deposit and withdrawal of funds used for online sports wagering.”

The proposal heads to the House Finance Committee as a first stop. The Rhode Island Legislature will reconvene next week to consider bills after waiting out a three-month suspension during the initial COVID-19 outbreak.

Rhode Island works a bit differently

RI sports betting functions as a partnership among the state, Twin River, William Hill, and IGT.

The revenue split from sports betting in Rhode Island as follows: