Rhode Island was the first state in the New England that took the plunge into the sports betting industry, but things have not gone as well as they had hoped. Rhode Island isn’t known as one of the best sporting states in America, but they were hoping to become a leader in sports betting. Even though they were one of the first states to legalize sports betting, there are still several things that need to be improved to really start bringing in the big money. Debates and lawsuits about online gambling have really held back the two casinos inside of the state, and they have some pretty strict regulations about what teams bettors can place bets on. There is optimism in Rhode Island that they are going to get this figured out in the near future, but at least there is legalized sports betting within the state.
AT A GLANCE
Status of Betting AT A GLANCE: Sports betting was legalized in Rhode Island in 2018, with it officially opening up on November 26. Bettors in Rhode Island are happy to be able to place bets within the state, but they are still extremely limited in their ability to do so. Mobile betting was supposed to be launched in the summer of 2019, but lawsuits and decisions from the court have delayed this process up to this point.
Where to Bet AT A GLANCE: There are currently just two casinos in the state of Rhode Island, and they are the only places able to take bets on sports. There is hope that other retailers will be able to establish betting kiosks in the near future, but that too has been delayed. The hope is that bettors will be able to place mobile bets in 2019 as well, but that is yet to be the case.
Teams AT A GLANCE: The state of Rhode Island doesn’t have any major professional sports teams in the state, but they do have some terrific teams scattered throughout New England. Rhode Island is home to a pair of successful universities, as well as a few Minor League professional teams. Betting on teams located within the state of Rhode Island is still illegal, however.
Status of Sports Betting
Even though most people won’t associate the state of Rhode Island with sports, it is one of the states that has legalized sports betting. The United States Supreme Court lifted a federal ban on sports betting in 2017, and states were free to make their own laws. Rhode Island became the 8th state to legalize sports betting in 2018, and it didn’t take them long to get things up and running. The reason for legalizing sports betting is very simple, increased revenue for the state to use on other projects to improve their state. Rhode Island hasn’t brought in as much money as expected with the legalization of sports betting, but some of their own laws plays a huge role in that.
Most states who have legalized sports betting have done so through their current casinos, but that is a big problem in Rhode Island. The state has just two casinos, and they have limited their residents to placing bets at those locations. They also added language that made it illegal to place bets on teams that are located or playing in Rhode Island, which has taken away some of the fun and interest for a number of bettors.
Other states have realized that mobile and online betting is the best way to bring in a ton of money, and Rhode Island appears to have discovered that as well. As of March 2019, online betting was legalized by Governor Gina Raimondo, but a launch date has yet to be announced. That is because legislators and interest groups are fighting back against the new law, and it appears that the issue will be settled in court. If online betting doesn’t ever get going in Rhode Island, then they will never see the full potential of this fast-growing industry.
Where to Bet Sports
Part of the reason that Rhode Island hasn’t seen the same results as other state’s have is because bettors are limited to just two locations to place bets. Rhode Island has just two casinos in the state, and they are the only ones authorized to take bets on sports. There has been talk of expanding that in the near future, but as of now there is no application process in place to add any more retail locations. Mobile betting will likely be the best place to make a bet in the near future, but it appears that it might be a few months away at least.
Twin River Casino in Lincoln: Twin River Casino was the first location to take a bet on sports in November of 2018, and it remains the top betting spot in the state of Rhode Island. William Hill manages the sportsbook at the Twin River Casino. The sportsbook features a full menu with bets available on any of the major sports around the world, and it is open around 18 hours a day and ready to take bets. The casino has an online sportsbook in place and is just waiting for the go-ahead to launch it to the general public.
Twin River Tiverton Casino Hotel: The Twin River Tiverton Casino opened up in December 2018, and it took a little longer to get things up and running. This sportsbook is also operated by William Hill, and it has started to gain popularity in recent months. The hours at this location are similar to the Lincoln hours, but are subject to change based on demand. There is also a sportsbook in place for this location as well, but has yet to go live as it is waiting on decisions from the courts. Twin River Tiverton is located in Tiverton, Rhode Island and does have the luxury of having a beautiful hotel attached to it.
Online/Mobile Betting (Future): The state of Rhode Island has legalized mobile and online betting, but there is no timetable yet to get things up and running. A bill was introduced in January 2019 to legalizing mobile betting, and it was signed into law in 2019. Those opposed to the expansion of betting in the state argue that a referendum will need to be passed in order to legalize online betting. Since the state has just two casinos, bettors might find it difficult to travel long distances to place bets on sports. This will be a story to keep your eye on throughout the summer of 2019.
Lawsuit Filed To End Betting in RI: A pair of lawyers filed a lawsuit in May in hopes to end sports betting in the state of Rhode Island. Lawmakers have been arguing about the semantics of legalizing online betting in the state, and not everyone thinks it was done legally. Lawyers Joseph Larisa and Brandon Bell believe that a referendum needs to be passed by voters of the state before online sports wagering can be operated by the state. Governor Raimonda and supporters of online sports wagering don’t think that the lawsuit has any merit, but it will delay the launch of mobile sportsbooks for an extended period of time.
Bill For Online Sports Betting Signed: On March 25, 2019, sports betting fans got the news they were waiting for when a law allowing online betting was officially signed. The new law would require potential bettors to sign up at the two casinos in the state before being able to place bets online. It was unclear when the launch was set to occur, but Governor Raimonda factored in the new legislation into her proposed budget set to begin on July 1. The mobile app will be operated by William Hill and IGT, who are already under contract to run the sportsbooks in the two casinos throughout the state.
Rhode Island Has Rough Month of February: While other states have seen increased revenue with the legalization of sports betting, that hasn’t always been the case in Rhode Island. The state lost a reported $890,000 in the month of February, and most of that was due to the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory. There were over $20.7 million in bets placed in February, but things did not work out well for the sportsbooks. The state predicted that they would bring in over $11.5 million in revenue before the month of June, but will have to make up ground in a hurry.
Sports Teams That Drive Betting
The state of Rhode Island doesn’t have any major professional sports teams within its borders, but there are still some great teams to root for. Most sports fans in Rhode Island will turn to nearby to find their favorite teams, but there are several teams on the East Coast that are popular throughout the state. There are a few popular universities in the state of Rhode Island with great athletic traditions, but bettors are unable to place bets on teams located within the state.
The New England Patriots are widely considered the most popular team in the state of Rhode Island. Boston is just across the border in Massachusetts, and they are shown throughout the state on Sundays during football season. The Patriots are the biggest team that will drive betting in Rhode Island, and that was evident when the Patriots won the Super Bowl in February.
Another Boston team, the Red Sox, are extremely popular with residents of Rhode Island as well. The Red Sox have been extremely successful in the last 15 years, and the people of Rhode Island have started to fall in love with the team. Betting on baseball is always a touchy subject, but the Red Sox will help drive betting in the smallest state in the country.
Even though betting on in-state college teams is illegal, there are a couple of great universities located in Rhode Island. Providence University and the University of Rhode Island are both traditionally strong basketball programs, and have built up a terrific rivalry throughout the years. If betting on them ever becomes legal, it should boost interest and revenue.
It’s probably fitting that the state of Rhode Island doesn’t allow bets placed on teams located within its borders, because there aren’t really that many. Boston is just across the border, and the Red Sox and Patriots are extremely popular in this state. There is plenty of action when these two teams take the field, and that will only increase if and when mobile betting goes live.
Casino Legal Status: Gambling at the two casinos in Rhode Island is currently legal, and both locations are able to take bets on sports. These two casinos will be in charge of offering online sports betting when it becomes available.
Sports Betting Legal Status: The legal age to place a bet on sports in Rhode Island is 18, and you have to make an in-person bet at the two casinos in the state. Betting on teams located in Rhode Island, or teams playing in the state is illegal.
Horse Racing Legal Status: There is no live horse racing in the state of Rhode Island, but it is legal to place bets on these races as long as the sports betting rules and regulations are followed.
Poker Legal Status: Poker is only legalized at the two casinos in the state, and online poker is prohibited. The legal age to gamble in Rhode Island is 18.
DFS Legal Status: Daily Fantasy Sports is legal in the state of Rhode Island, but it must be done at one of the two casinos. Playing DFS through a non-approved company is illegal.
Lottery Legal Status: The Rhode Island state lottery was created in 1974, and it is also legal to play Powerball and Mega-Millions. Currently, there is no option to play the lottery online.
Sports Betting Timeline
- May 2019: Lawsuits filed opposing sports betting in Rhode Island
- March 2019: Online betting legalized in Rhode Island
- January 2019: Bill to legalize online betting introduced
- December 2018: 2nd Casino opens up in Tiverton, RI
- November 26, 2018: First sports bet placed in RI
- June 22, 2018: Law is passed legalizing sports betting in Rhode Island