Rhode Island December Sports Betting Dips With Casinos Closed
Rhode Island closed 2020 with a severe drop in sports betting handle and revenue in December, a decline that can largely be attributed to the state’s two casinos closing for most of the month.
The physical sportsbooks at both Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Tiverton Casino Hotel were closed from Nov. 29 to Dec. 21 because of a spike in coronavirus cases around the state. When the casinos reopened, they were (and still are) operating with limited capacity. Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered casinos as well as several other types of businesses to shut down in Rhode Island in an effort to stem the surge of COVID-19 cases.
The Rhode Island sports betting handle in December was $22,770,472, down 35.1% from November, when the figure was a state record of $35,098,445. In a year-over-year comparison, that December number was down 28.1% from the last month of 2019, when the sports betting handle was $31,670,511.
Sports betting revenue declined 59.7% from November, when it was a state record of $6,281,321, to $2,533,090 in December, according to figures that the Rhode Island Lottery posted. The December revenue was 1.5% below the $2,571,755 from December 2019.
Rhode Island Sports Betting December vs November
|Total handle||Mobile handle||Revenue|
|Change||Down 35.1%||Up 16.8%||Down 59.7%|
Rhode Island Mobile Sports Betting Rises
One gambling figure in Rhode Island rose in December and it’s the one not affected when casino closures happen: Mobile sports betting handle. That figure hit $18,339,059 to set a state record. This once again emphasizes the importance of a robust online sports betting market for any state wanting to maximize its handle. That was up 16.8% from November ($15,699,743) and more than double the December 2019 ($8,751,004) when the Rhode Island online sports betting option was only a few months old.
December marked the fifth month in a row that the state record for online handle was reset. Mobile betting has been available in Rhode Island since September 2019 and, in the summer of 2020, Gov. Gina Raimondo singed a bill allowing registration from anywhere in the state. Eliminating the in-person registration requirement has paid dividends, even moreso at a time when physical casinos were closed.
For the first six months of the 2020-21 fiscal year (July through December), Rhode Island drew $153.7 million in total sports betting revenue, well ahead of the 2019-20 pace. That fiscal year, with casinos closed from mid-March to June 2020 because of the pandemic, the total sports betting handle was just over $200 million.
The revenue for 2020-21 FY, at $17.3 million through six months, has nearly equaled the previous fiscal year’s; total sports betting revenue was $18.7 million from July 2019 to June 2020.
Gaming Way Down During COVID-19
With casinos closed for three weeks, in-person gaming in Rhode Island was naturally a small fraction of the normal intake.
December net terminal income at Video Lottery Terminals was $7,967,346, down 60.7% from November’s VLT revenue ($20,267,473) and down 79.6% from December 2019 ($39,047,415).
December 2020 table games revenue was $1,786,436, down 65.1% from November ($5,122,047) and 82.3% from the $10,115,709 from 12 months earlier.
In addition to capacity reductions, both Rhode Island casinos must close at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays. Also, the poker room in Lincoln remains closed, according to Twin River’s website.
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