New England is a proud sporting region and by the end of November 2018, residents will be able to place sports bets at two casinos in Rhode Island, which passed a sports betting bill in June 2018.
The first place where legal sports betting will be at the old dog and horse racing track at the Twin River Casino, in the form of a betting window. It is set to be open by Thanksgiving weekend, with a temporary offering.
During December, the casino will be constructing a state of the art lounge for its sports betting offering, with many screens showing the live games and their respective odds. There will be food and bar areas where bettors can relax and unwind as they watch how their sports bets fare.
Rhode Island gambling laws
The New England area contains six different states: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. People there are very passionate about their sports, particularly so with the New England Patriots. The region was also the place where volleyball and basketball were created.
Rhode Island is the only state in New England to pass sports betting legislation to date. It is the smallest state in the country in terms of its area, but the second in terms of population density.
Traditionally, Rhode Islanders embrace various forms of gambling. The state lottery has been running since the 1970s, providing funds to many great causes over the years.
Horse race betting has been legal since the 1930s. The two racetracks in the state also have slot machines, which has helped them to survive financially.
The state has two casinos in operation currently. In 2012, casinos got the green light to open their doors in Rhode Island. Online casino and daily fantasy sports are still not legal, but sports betting is being embraced.
Highest tax rate on sports betting
The state legalized sports betting officially on June 20. The authorities are levying a hefty 51% tax rate on sports betting revenues.
This is the highest tax rate among any of the states that offer legal sports betting. It may very well act as a disincentive for the casinos to push their sportsbooks products to Rhode Islanders.
Rhode Island will be able to capitalize on New England residents not currently having any other states in which to legally bet on sports. However, if other states that are contemplating legalization themselves, such as Massachusetts, decide to offer online gambling, this could undermine Rhode Island’s offering. Currently, the state has no provision for online gambling.
The Rhode Island Lottery is in charge of choosing sports betting partners for the state. It has gone with International Game Technology (IGT), which is well known for being a sector innovator. It is also are turning to European bookmaker William Hill. The two companies are working together to have the sportsbooks open in the region by December.
This partnership is in place for the next five years, with a provision in place to extend this for a further two terms of five years. IGT is looking after the gaming platform and William Hill is looking after the operations and risk management systems.
A concrete opening date?
The Tiverton Casino Hotel and Twin River Casino have been planning on having their sportsbooks open by the end of November. According to recent reports, they are on track to meet this target.
The same company owns both of the casinos. Their head of operations, Mike Barlow, recently spoke about the opening of their sportsbooks. He said: “I see folks from Connecticut, from Massachusetts all coming. New Hampshire. Why not? We’re the only game in town.”
There is no doubt that the other New England states will be watching closely to see how Rhode Island’s new sportsbooks perform. If they prove to be a success, there likely will be a raft of newly proposed sports betting bills in the other states come the opening of the 2019 legislative session.