Mobile Sports Betting to Begin in Rhode Island This Fall

  • Rhode Island to start testing sports betting app in August
  • Preparing for an official launch by the start of the NFL season
  • Mobile betting was approved earlier this year
Man celebrating win with mobile phone
Rhode Island will begin testing sports betting app in August.

Much-needed boost for revenue

Officials in Rhode Island anticipate sports betting numbers should improve with the introduction of mobile wagering. The state has approved mobile sports betting and is preparing to test an application beginning in August. Thousands of wagers will be simulated over several weeks during the testing phase. The goal is to officially launch in the fall, just in time for the NFL season.

Mobile sports betting is expected to give the state a much-needed boost in revenues. The revenues from the industry have yet to be impressive, though April was the highest revenue month to date. Sports betting generated $2m (£1,574,901.67) in April, with a handle of $17m (£13,386,664.20). This was 33% higher than the earnings from March.

The target for the last fiscal year was $11.5m (£9,055,058.79) and the state is falling far short of that, having only generated around $3.9m (£3,070,846.02) by April. The fiscal year ends on June 30. Officials believe that mobile sports betting will help them reach their revenue goals. For the next fiscal year, the state has set a target of $22.7m (£17,872,417.57) in revenues.

Mobile betting is big business in other states and would certainly add to the handle and revenues for Rhode Island. In both New Jersey and Nevada most sports betting wagers are placed via the internet. Over 70% of wagers come from a mobile phone or computer.

Rhode Island Department of Revenue spokesperson Paul Grimaldi said that once live, the app will require bettors to travel to a casino for identity verification. Once the account is verified, players will be able to make a deposit within their gambling account remotely.

Lawsuit filed by Republican-led group

Despite the fact that mobile sports betting would help the industry as a whole, a lawsuit has been filed against the activity. According to VSO News, a Republican-led group is opposed to mobile wagering and has filed a lawsuit arguing that voter approval is required before any form of gambling expansion is legalized.

The lawsuit claims that a referendum referring specifically to sports betting should be on the ballot and be approved by voters before the activity can move forward. The group feels that the constitution is being disregarded.

Governor Raimondo has responded to the lawsuit via email. Her office states that several legal opinions were provided affirming that sports betting was already approved by voters. The governor is confident that the sports betting decision will be upheld in court.

Despite the lawsuit, the lottery plans to continue developing a mobile sports betting application and also focusing on an online sports betting portal.

Rumors had been circulating for some time before the lawsuit was filed that it was coming. At one time, the former state’s Republican Party chair stated that the group was planning to file such a suit.