It took about a year for legislators in Rhode Island to realize the mistake in its sports betting legislation. Now that it’s been corrected, the RI sports betting market should finally start to pick up.
The legislature initially approved mobile Rhode Island sports betting but it began in Sept. 2019 with in-person registration required. That meant hopeful sports bettors had to finish the registration process at either of Twin River‘s two casinos.
A change in the state’s legal view found that only the bets must be made on property, though, and not the accounts. That allowed companion bills approving remote registration to coast through the legislature to Gov. Gina Raimondo‘s desk in July.
Remote registration went live just five days later on July 28, faster than the month the Rhode Island Lottery originally estimated.
The pace of registrations from then through Sept. 22 outlines just how important remote registration is for sports betting in RI and elsewhere.
RI sports betting accounts surge
The day before remote registration went live, Rhode Island had 10,583 fully-activated accounts out of the 24,919 that began the registration process. That’s a completion rate of just 42.5%.
It’s a different situation now, though. Between the return of major sports in late July, the start of betting on NFL games in September and a marketing push from the lottery, that percentage of activated accounts is way up.
As of Sept. 22, Rhode Island had 25,372 fully-activated accounts from 28,923 registrations. That’s a much better completion rate of 87.7%.
That means even though only 4,004 new people started the registration process, 14,789 completed the process for completed sports betting account. Those figures suggest more than 10,000 people started the process on their phone but did not make the drive and finish the process.
Note that these figures do not mean all of those 25,372 accounts are funded. That information was not available from the Lottery.
New records incoming?
It won’t take much for RI sports betting to set new monthly handle or revenue records. In-person registration and the coronavirus pandemic severely limited the market over the past year.
Rhode Island’s all-time high for handle came in December with $31.7 million in total bets. Online only accounted for $8.8 million in handle, though. A robust 72.4% of total handle was bet at one of the two casinos.
The revenue record came a month later in January with $3.3 million in sports betting revenue.
The impact from remote registration wasn’t immediately felt in those four days in July. Handle was just $6.7 million, though that was more than triple the $2 million bet in June.
The state typically reports sports betting results at the end of the month. That means we’ll know in about a week whether the full slate of MLB, NBA and NHL games in August pushed the state to new heights.
Only Nevada has permanent in-person registration
With Rhode Island officially allowing remote registration, Nevada is the only state left with an in-person registration requirement that does not expire.
Mobile market share is much lower in Nevada than other leading states. Just 69% of handle came from mobile in July, even as casinos remain at limited capacity. The state typically hovers between 50-60%.
Iowa sports betting is likely to see a lift when the in-person requirement expires in January.
Sports betting in Illinois, meanwhile, is off to a hot start because the in-person requirement is currently suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. In-person registration is required by law for at least the first year and a half after the market launched in March.