On Monday, November 26, Rhode Island will become the first state in New England region to offer legal sports betting, and the eighth overall state where residents and visitors can place legal bets on sporting events. The Twin River Casino in Lincoln will open its sportsbook on Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. in a big celebratory event. In a press advisory, the casino announced:
“An opening bet ceremony will kick off the new product with Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Dominic Ruggerio and John E. Taylor, Jr., executive chairman of Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc., placing the ceremonial first bets.”
The ceremony is to take place in the Simulcast area on the third floor of the casino in the Phase 1 area of sports betting. Any winnings received during the ceremonial first bets will be donated to charities of their choosing.
Immediately after the first bets are placed, the sportsbook will be open to the public to place bets on professional and collegiate sports, except for those games that involve Rhode Island-based teams or games that happen within the state. The General Assembly legalized sports betting on all other manner of athletic contests.
The permanent sportsbook will be built on the second floor; however, in the meantime, all bets will be placed in Phase 1, which is located in the ‘40s area of the building. Patrons will be able to place bets on both horses and sports games in this area.
Phase 2 will be similar to other recently built sportsbooks in different casinos across the country. The sports lounge will be 3,600 square feet and will offer hundreds of TV screens and comfortable chairs. Located behind the Wicked Good Bar and Grill, the area, still under construction, will open in mid-December. Before the construction started, the lounge area was rented out as banquet space.
According to an article by The Valley Breeze, Mike Barlow, VP of Operations for Twin River Management Group Inc., shared details about the environments available for patrons:
“Phase 2 will be more of a social environment, separate from the activities on the main floor. We want to offer a tailgate party without having to go outside and tailgate.”
It’s been a long process to get sports betting legal and operating in Rhode Island. The sports betting law was enacted in June and many stakeholders and impatient bettors were hoping the state would have legal sports betting by fall; however, delays forced the planned October start date back to almost the end of November. The casinos missed out on most of the NFL football season and just about all of the NCAAF seasons.
Any revenue that the Twin River Casino makes from sports betting will be taxed at 51 percent. The state’s lottery will be operating the sportsbook along with William Hill and IGT. However, lawmakers have not legalized mobile and online wagering. The vendor will receive 32 percent of revenue and the casino will keep 17 percent.
The state budget, which was based on a launch for October 1, included an estimated $32.5 million in revenue from sports gambling through to the end of June 2019. Analysts now say the amount will be closer to $12 million due to the late start. Had the sportsbook opened on the date initially planned, it would have taken in a lot more revenue from the beginning of the NFL season and during the World Series of baseball.
In a statement on Wednesday, Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said he’s pleased that the activity will soon be made available, despite being frustrated by the delay:
“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.”
Since May, when the Supreme Court overturned the sports betting ban called PASPA, which had been in place since 1991, six states have launched legal sports betting: New Jersey, Delaware, New Mexico, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Nevada, of course, has had legal sports betting all along since it was exempt from PASPA.
These two companies will supply all sports betting services to the Twin River Casino as well as the Tiverton Casino, which will launch sports betting next month. These two casinos are Rhode Island’s only licensed table game and video lottery establishments.
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