Rhode Island Starts Rolling Out Gambling Kiosks

Newport Bridge and lighthouse
Rhode Island is the first state in New England to offer sports betting.

30-second summary:

  • Rhode Island is the first state in New England to open a sportsbook
  • The two Twin River Casinos have sportsbooks
  • Sports betting in the state has the highest tax rate in the country at 51%
  • Mobile sports betting looks inevitable in the near future following Senate approval
  • A total of 22 sports betting kiosks will be in place at the casinos in the near future

Sports betting in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has been busy expanding its gambling laws of late. It became the first state in New England to make sports betting legal and to open up sportsbooks. Lawmakers are now getting close to introducing legal mobile and online sports betting as well in the region.

Sports betting officially became legal in Rhode Island on July 20, 2018. The first sportsbook was to be open for business in October, but due to some delays, it was not until November 26 that the first sports bet was made – at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln.

The Twin River Casino in Tiverton is the other casino operating a sportsbook. Casinos have been legal in the state since 2012. The Rhode Island State Lottery is in charge of regulating the sports betting sector.

The Lottery was also responsible for choosing which operators the casinos would be dealing with. The International Game Technology (IGT) group is the party operating the backend of the sportsbooks.

British bookmaker William Hill already has a decent presence in the US sports betting market. It is the party looking after the risk management and operations of the sportsbooks in the state.

This deal is in place for a duration of five years. The contract contains a clause to extend the partnership for a further two five-year periods if all goes to plan.

Ongoing developments

The state currently has the highest tax rate of any state with legal sports betting at 51%. In the first month of operations, there was an intake of $13m, with profits for the casinos being $950,000.

The following month there was an intake of $19m, with a profit of just $160,000 for the casinos. This was largely due to the Super Bowl victory for the New England Patriots, where the sportsbooks lost about $2.35m.

With mobile sports betting so popular now, it was a logical next step for the state to make this activity legal. Nearby New Jersey, for example, generates 80% of its sports betting revenue from mobile and online sportsbooks.

The state Senate in Rhode Island gave its approval to advance the mobile sports betting bill, following a vote of 31-4 in favor of legalization. There is some opposition to this bill.

Senator Sam Bell is in favor of legalizing mobile sports betting, but does not want it to be open only to the Twin River Casinos. He believes that there should be competition in the space. The Republican Party in the state is considering filing legal action as a result if this bill is signed into law.

Sports betting kiosks on the way

March Madness is a very popular college basketball event that will lead to a lot of sports bets throughout the tournament. It is behind only the Super Bowl in terms of the betting activity.

The two sportsbooks in Rhode Island now have two sports betting kiosks in place in time for this event. The two casinos set up these kiosks because of the long lines seen at the ticket windows at their sportsbooks.

The Rhode Island Department of Revenue put these terminals through a lot of testing in advance of being open to the public. They met all of the key markers and were compliant with all laws in the state.

In the near future, 17 kiosks will be installed at the casino in Lincoln. The Tiverton casino is only planning on having five of them.

Stakeholders across the US will be looking at how these self-administering sports betting kiosks perform when the figures come out for the month of March in Rhode Island. It could be something that operators in other states adopt if all goes well.