Second Rhode Island Sportsbook Opens; Mobile Betting Under Consideration

A second sportsbook is now up and running in Rhode Island. The sportsbook at Tiverton Casino Hotel accepted its first sports bets on Monday afternoon to complete the Rhode Island sports betting picture until (and if) the state expands to online betting.

The launch of the Tiverton Casino sportsbook makes it the second betting location to launch in Rhode Island this year. One week prior to the Tiverton sportsbook’s grand opening, the sportsbook at Twin River Casino launched.

With legislation specifying that wagers may only be placed at the state’s two licensed casinos, Rhode Island is now at max sports betting capacity unless online wagering is legalized as well.

Rhode Island sports betting is expected to generate roughly $11.5 million in new tax revenue for the state over the first year, which sounds about right given there are only two casinos within state lines.

Governor Gina Raimondo’s 2018 budget originally predicted legal sports betting would generate $23.5 in new tax revenue over the first year, but delays in getting everything up and running caused Rhode Island sportsbooks to miss the bulk of the critical NFL betting season. This led to the revised projection of $11.5 million.

Looking at the Twin River Tiverton Sportsbook

NewportRI.com reported a few dozen people were on-hand for the launch of sports betting at 3 PM yesterday afternoon and that betting limits range from $2 at the low end to $10,000 at the high end with a wide range of sports on offer.

The Twin River website has not posted operating hours as of this writing, but we can look at the Twin River Lincoln sportsbook’s operating hours for possibilities. Note that this is not set in stone, but it stands to reason Twin River will establish similar operating hours for both sportsbooks.

Twin River Lincoln offers the following hours of operation:

  • Mondays: 10 AM to 1 AM
  • Tuesdays: 10 AM to 12 AM
  • Wednesdays: 10 AM to 12 AM
  • Thursdays: 10 AM to 1 AM
  • Fridays: 10 AM to 2 AM
  • Saturdays: 8 AM to 2 AM
  • Sundays: 8 AM to 1 AM

According to NewPortRI.com, there are 50 TV screens placed throughout the Tiverton Casino sports betting area.

On an interesting side note, NewportRI.com spoke with one customer who only identified himself as Tony. The customer, who said he has been betting on sports for 20 years, said he doesn’t believe Rhode Island’s legal sportsbooks will put underground bookies out of business.

“It’s not going to put bookies out of business,” he said. “The state will really do good when they allow Internet betting. It’s going to make the state a lot of money.”

Tony is probably spot-on with that prediction, but the prospect of online betting in Rhode Island remains uncertain at this point. However, lawmakers have shown some interest in eventually expanding sports betting to the internet.

Mobile Betting in Rhode Island Under Consideration

The law that legalized sports betting in Rhode Island earlier this year appears to limit sports betting to the state’s two licensed casinos without actually prohibiting online betting. This is an important distinction to note because it may provide the state with just enough wiggle room to introduce online betting without having to go back to voters for yet another referendum.

Legalizing in-person betting was a fairly easy process once the governor and state legislature all got on the same page. The Rhode Island constitution requires any new expansion of gambling to be approved by voters through a statewide referendum, and Rhode Island already jumped through those hoops back in 2012 and 2016 when voters were asked to vote on allowing the state’s casinos to offer Class III gaming.

The way those referendums were worded did not exactly make it explicitly clear voters were approving sports betting along with other forms of casino gambling, but nonetheless that’s what happened.

Where it gets trickier for online betting is both referendums specifically asked if expanded casino gambling should be allowed at each casino. Some local news outlets have reported that authorizing the state’s casinos to offer online betting would require a new referendum because that would constitute a new expansion of gambling.

However, there are some who believe a second referendum would not be necessary if it is ultimately determined that internet wagers are actually placed at the casino because that is where those wagers are processed – even if the people placing those wagers are spread across the state.

At least two lawmakers have expressed interest in pursuing online sports betting in Rhode Island. Back in May, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said he would support online betting.

“I would support that,” he said back then. “I think all the other states are going to be offering that.”

More recently, Ruggerio has affirmed his continued desire to bring online betting to Rhode Island. Ruggerio told reporters last week that he is again working on legislation to authorize online wagers within state lines. And now, he has support from some of his colleagues.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello told the Associated Press last week that he plans to make online wagering “an important issue” in the next legislative session because he knows it is a priority for Ruggerio.

“If his proposal enhances the gaming experience for Rhode Islanders while providing additional revenue for the state, it is certainly an idea worthy of a thorough review,” he said.

Additionally, the Associated Press reported that Twin River spokeswoman Patti Doyle has said they are “actively engaged in conversations” with state legislators about the potential offered by online betting.