Rhode Island Mobile Sports Betting App Rolling Out Soon
It looks like Rhode Islanders can look forward to a mobile sports betting app in the near future.
Rhode Island became the eighth state to legalize sports betting in 2018. This past spring, lawmakers approved mobile sports betting in the state.
This week, the Rhode Island Lottery has been advertising on television and radio that a new sports betting app is on the way, the Providence Journal reports. The Rhode Island Department of Revenue Chief of Staff, Jade Borgeson, told the Journal that the state has spent $10,000 on ads thus far.
Rhode Island Sports Betting Revenue Disappoints
There are two brick-and-mortar locations for sports betting in Rhode Island, and both are Twin River casino properties: Twin River Casino Hotel and Tiverton Casino Hotel. International Game Technology (IGT) partnered with Rhode Island and Twin River to provide sports betting at the two casinos with all three entities sharing the revenue.
Rhode Island Sportsbook Revenues, Fiscal Year 2018-19
Note: Twin River took its first sports bet on Nov. 26, 2018; Tiverton did so on Dec. 3, 2018.
The Twin River casino opened for sports betting in November 2018. From the opening date to June 2019, Twin River took in a total of $103,408,267 in bets and paid out $98,134,076, for $5,274,191 total revenue before commissions and other expenses, according to Rhode Island Lottery documents.
The Tiverton Casino opened for sports betting in December 2018. From then until June 2019, Tiverton Casino received $24,179,542 in wagers and paid out $22,585,964 for a total of $1,593,578 in revenue before commissions and other expenses.
Combined, Twin River and Tiverton Casino collected a total of $127,587,809 in wagers, paid out $120,720,040, for a total revenue of $6,867,769. Sports betting hasn’t generated the amount of returns that the state was hoping for, but Rhode Island officials expect, once the app launches, an economic impact of $22.7 million in sports betting revenue by the end of June 2020.
Republican-Backed Sports Betting Lawsuit Looms
Last May, former Providence Republican mayoral candidate and GOP activist Daniel Harrop filed a lawsuit over sports betting in Rhode Island, NBC affiliate WBTS reported. Attorney Joe Larisa and former Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell filed the suit on behalf of Harrop.
The lawsuit argues that voters approved table games for gambling in 2012 and 2016, but that the voters couldn’t have known they were approving sports betting in the future, as it was just legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. The state’s constitution necessitates voter approval for Rhode Island to expand the types of locations of gambling.
Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said the state’s legal advice claims that voters approved sports betting when they approved casino gambling, WBTS reported. Lawyers on behalf of the Rhode Island Lottery and the Twin River casino company argued in recent Superior Court filings that the case should be terminated because Harrop isn’t hurt by sports betting and therefore lacks standing to sue, the Providence Journal documented.
Despite the lawsuit, the Rhode Island Lottery is expecting the sports betting app to launch by the opening day of the regular NFL season, Sept. 5.
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