Rhode Island Sports Betting Stalls; Casinos Near Reopening

Rhode Island Sports Betting Stalls; Casinos Near Reopening
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With casinos closed, Rhode Island saw virtually no revenue from sports betting in April. Casinos have been closed since mid-March, but will have a limited reopening on June 8.

The total handle for April was $591,377, down 93.4% from March 2020 ($8.949 million) and down 96.5% from April 2019.

RELATED: Learn more about Rhode Island sports betting and gaming

The mobile handle in April of $589,260 declined 80.8% from March’s $3.065 million, according to the latest report Monday from the Rhode Island Lottery, which oversees sports betting in the state. There was no mobile betting in Rhode Island in April 2019.

Rhode Island’s mobile sports betting market only has the single, online betting option through the state lottery. And the age verification process in the state requires visiting a brick-and-mortar casino.

The state’s two casinos — Twin River Casino Hotel in Lincoln and the Tiverton Casino Hotel — plan to reopen June 8 by invitation only to select members (who can bring one guest), according to the Twin Rivers website. The casinos were closed by the Rhode Island Lottery on March 14.

Rhode Island Sports Betting April 2020 vs. March 2020

April 2020 March 2020Change
Total Handle$591,377$8.949M-93.4%
Mobile Handle$589,260$3.065M-80.8%

Sportsbooks Won’t Reopen at Casinos Just Yet

When the casinos reopen on June 8, there will be new health and social distancing measures in place, according to the Twin River website. Temperature checks are included in the new guidelines and each facility will be limited to about 25% of capacity. Facemasks will be mandatory for visitors and employees.

Only video slots spaced 6 feet apart and virtual table games will be available at the beginning, according to the casinos. The sportsbooks and table games will remain closed.

“The first thing you should know is the health and safety of our customers and employees is our priority,” Twin River casino leadership said in a letter posted on the website. “Every decision we collectively make has been — and will continue to be — put through that lens. For that reason, our reopening will be thoughtful and phased so that we create an environment that is safe for everyone.

”The second most important thing you should know is our reopening plan meets or exceeds all of the guidelines established by the CDC, the State of Rhode Island, the RI Department of Health, and our regulators, the Department of Revenue Regulation and The Lottery.”

Twin Rivers did not announce when the second phase, which would likely include the sportsbooks and table games, would begin.

Other States Looking to Online Gaming

States with legal sports betting saw similar revenue drops in April. States with in-person registration have shown little or no revenue. Nevada, one of the industry giants, redacted its sports betting numbers from its April gaming report.

But more states are looking at legalizing sports betting. California and Ohio are considering sports betting legislation to help bring in tax revenue and South Dakota, Maryland and Louisiana will have sports betting referendums on the November ballot.

In addition to the bulky registration requirements for sports betting, Rhode Island doesn’t offer online casino games or online poker. States like Michigan and West Virginia are making a push to get online slots, table games and poker up and running, joining New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Nevada in offering online gaming options.

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