Rhode Island February Sports Betting Handle Up; Revenue Falls

Rhode Island February Sports Betting Handle Up; Revenue Falls
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Rhode Island bettors played more and won more in February, the state’s monthly revenue report shows.

Rhode Island’s sports betting revenue dipped in February from the previous month, but signaled a sizable improvement from 12 months ago as bettors wagered more. The overall handle for mobile bounced back from a poor January, and players won, greatly diminishing total revenue for the casinos.

RELATED: Learn more about Rhode Island sports betting and gaming

Overall, revenue for Rhode Island totaled $2.3 million in February, according to the Rhode Island Lottery. One year ago, the state lost nearly $1 million thanks in large part to the local favorite New England Patriots covering in Super Bowl 53 against the Los Angeles Rams.

Handle Bounces Back From Slow January

While revenue was down more than 30% from January’s $3.3 million, the amount wagered by players was up $4.5 million to $28.1 million. Compared to February 2019, this year’s number shows an impressive increase of 35.8%.

December 2019 marked the best month of sports betting in state history at $31.6 million in total handle. While February didn’t match that, it was a nice bounceback from January’s lackluster $26.9 million total.

Casinos in Twin River and Tiverton are the only facilities licensed to accept wagers. The Twin River casino posted $1.5 million in sports betting revenue off $15.2 in handle in February. The casino in Tiverton had showed solid $413,626 in gains, far better than last February’s $17,641 in revenue. Tiverton’s total handle of $4,456,226 barely missed January’s record-setting $4,457,654.

Rhode Island Sports Betting February 2020 vs. January 2020

Feb. 2020 Jan. 2020Change
Total Handle$28.148M$26.940M+4.5%
Mobile Handle$8.466M$7.799M+8.6%

Mobile Betting Percentage Continues To Rise

Mobile sports bets took in more money in February, but revenue took a major hit. A total of $8.5 million was wagered through mobile, up 9.0% from January. But revenue was down a whopping 47.3% from January and the $407,050 total marked the lowest since the state began offering mobile betting in September 2019.

Mobile sports betting in Rhode Island got a late start and has been notably hindered by only offering a single, online betting option and an age verification process that requires physically visiting a Twin River casino. Numbers have reflected the issues.

Mobile sports betting in the state is 30.2% of total handle, an increase from 25% in January and 27% in December. That’s still well below the national average — New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for example, each regularly see more than 85% of their action from online.

State Hindering Potential

Rhode Island was among the first states to legalize sports betting, but the slow move to mobile and clunky procedure to get signed up for it has limited revenue opportunities for the state.

The key difference is the in-person requirement to register for online play. It’s likely Rhode Island will continue to dramatically lag behind in mobile wagering potential until it loosens requirements, similar to the efforts seen in neighboring states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In addition, Rhode Island’s massive 51% tax rate, easily the highest rate of any state, crushes the revenue potential of the two sportsbooks as well and obviously doesn’t incentivize the casinos to put many resources into the product.