Rhode Island sees its sports gambling market climb toward recovery


There’s still a lot of work to be done, but Rhode Island’s sports gambling market is bouncing back to life. Thanks to a move by the state’s governor, Gina Raimondo, in-person registration is now no longer a requirement, making it easier for sports gambling fans in the state to participate in the activity, and this is going to help things return to normal. Even though the requirement was only lifted on July 22, and the state’s sportsbooks were closed for most of the month, July’s handle jumped 231.5% from the previous month and, with the NFL season quickly approaching, things will only get better.

In July, Rhode Island’s sportsbooks took in $6.73 million, a considerable increase over the $2.03 million they reported a month earlier. The figure, however, still pales in comparison to the $8.32 million the sports gambling operators reported in July of last year, but that’s not surprising, given the state of sports activity that month. The NBA, the NHL and MLB were only getting back into a groove at the very end of that month, and the absence of the major sports leagues didn’t leave many options for gamblers. In addition, the sportsbooks didn’t begin to reopen until July 22, two weeks after the casinos had been allowed to restart their operations.

Mobile sports gambling in the state, as has been the case everywhere it’s allowed, continues to be the star of the industry in Rhode Island. It accounted for $4.4 million of the handle, a 109.5% increase over June’s figure. A year earlier, mobile sports gambling wasn’t even allowed in the state, so there’s no year-on-year comparison, but the amount accounted for 65.4% of the overall handle.

Before on-line registration was approved in July, gamblers had to travel to one of the two casinos in the state, Twin River Casino Hotel or Tiverton Casino Hotel. As lawmakers watched the revenue coming in from sports gambling disappear, they launched an initiative to remove the in-person registration requirement, which was quickly approved by Raimondo. However, the market is still extremely limited, with gamblers only given a single online option that is run through SportsBetRI, an entity controlled by the state’s lottery.

The NBA and MLB reboots have helped turn things around and the state’s sports gambling activity should get a huge boost with the upcoming NFL season. The first game is scheduled to be held on September 10 and, from there, Rhode Island sports gambling fans will have serious amounts of action in front of them. All major sports organizations will be live, and the industry some thought would never amount to much in the state will easily begin to report revenue that is double or triple last year’s figures. If it’s able to maintain that rhythm, sports gambling in Rhode Island will prove to be the cash cow supporters have always known it would be.