Rhode Island became the eighth US state to offer sports betting on November 26 when Twin River Casino in Lincoln, New England, launched its sports book almost two months after the proposed October 1 start date.
The ceremonial bet was placed by Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Twin River Chairman John Taylor.
The state government of Rhode Island will get 51 per cent of the revenue from sports betting with the sports book vendor getting 32 per cent and the casino taking 17 per cent.
Twin River’s initial sports betting offering is located on the casino’s third-floor where betting on simulcasts of horse and greyhound racing has been offered for years. The racino has spent $100,000 renovating the existing space by adding sports betting terminals, wall-mounted TVs and countertop TVs to the race simulcast as as well as to a grandstand area on the first floor.
Customers can place bets on NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball games as well as NCAA sports, excluding any sporting teams from Rhode Island teams. Eventually, the plan is for customers to be able to place bets onhand-held devices.
The casino is investing $1.5m in phase 2 of its sports betting experience which will include a 3,600-square-foot sports betting arena with 100 TV screens, a bar and other food-and-beverage service.
Twin River Worldwide Holdings Chairman John Taylor said: “Phase 2 is where the market is heading. It will be a comfortable place where guests can come in and make a bet, sit down on couches, have a beer and enjoy themselves.”
Twin River VP and General Manager Craig Sculos added: “This will bring out the social aspect of the sports betting experience for everyone, from the most casual sports bettor to the most serious.”
Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said: “I’ve been waiting 40 years for this day. I’m very confident that sports wagering will provide a steady stream of new revenue for the state and be helpful to some of the initiatives that we’re looking forward to accomplishing in the coming year. We’re excited to be the first in New England. Anytime you can establish a relationship with customers first, ahead of your competition, it’s an advantage. It differentiates us from what other casinos offer. Sports gaming provides the state with revenue that offsets reliance on taxes to support essential state services, such as education and fixing roads and bridges.”
Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello added: “People are enjoying themselves and engaging in a recreational opportunity that they didn’t have before. So it feels really good, and it’s an exciting day.”
The roll-out of mobile and online sports betting will be a little further down the line, most probably at the start of July, the first day of the new fiscal year.
“We’ll have to go through the whole legislative process again, and I’m sure there will be some hurdles,” Mr. Mattiello added. “But I do think that once we get everything up and running here and work out all the kinks, the mobile gaming issue will be easier. And that will be another game-changer and provide even more revenue. It’s an exciting time, for sure.”
In mid-December, Twin River will begin offering sports betting 35 miles away at its sister property, Tiverton Casino Hotel, which only opened Labor Day Weekend
Twin River’s two casinos will be the only places where bets are accepted, for now. The state plans to explore ways to expand sports betting in the future which could see betting terminals rolled out at existing lottery agents, alongside Keno machines, or at newly launched sports bars.