Sports betting is expected to go live in the state of Rhode Island by mid-November, according to a Friday press release. Following the approval of the sports wagering bill back in June, the State Lottery has finally selected a service provider, namely IGT, which was the only bidder for the contract.
In its release, Reno-based gaming company IGT announced it has signed a five-year contract with the Rhode Island Lottery for being its end-to-end sports betting service provider. In cooperation with its commercial partner William Hill U.S., it will offer sports wagering at Twin River Casino in Lincoln and at Tiverton Casino. According to the release, these operations are expected to launch by mid-November at the state’s two licensed video lottery and table game establishments.
The two casinos were reported to be preparing for a sports betting service launch in October, a date which made sense considering the official approval of the bill by the Legislature in June. Lawmakers have planned a revenue of around $23.5 million from the sports wagering operation in the 2018-2019 budget. There might be a significant cut in potential revenues from sports betting for the state, however, as both college football and NFL seasons would have already started in November. The two casinos would likely miss out on the opportunity to offer bets on all events, which would result in reduced taxes for Rhode Island.
It should be noted that the Tiverton Casino is still not operational. The Providence Journal reported that the mixed-use resort will open to the public on September 1. The new, 85,000-square-foot casino, which is replacing the Newport Grand slots parlor set for closing on Tuesday, will have 1,000 slot machines and 32 gaming tables. Along with it, the project includes an 84-room, three-story hotel, as well as a few dining outlets.
There will be a mobile betting option, as well, although it will be very limited. Bettors at the two locations will be able to wager using a mobile app, but only as long as they are on casino grounds.
Rhode Island to Receive 51% of the Sports Betting Revenue
The five-year agreement with IGT and its official sports betting partner William Hill U.S. includes a provision for extension – if the two sides agree, the deal may be extended for two successive five-year terms. IGT was the only company to place a bid for running a sports betting operation in Lincoln and Tiverton.
It also secured an interim license to provide its PlayShot integrated sports betting platform in West Virginia, becoming one of several operators to enter the state’s upcoming sports wagering market. In June, daily fantasy sports site FanDuel inked a deal to provide sports betting operations in the luxury Greenbrier Resort. GeoComply followed with an interim license contract in the state, while William Hill said it agreed to run a sports wagering operation at an unnamed casino.
In Rhode Island, IGT and William Hill U.S. will need to share the sports wagering revenue with the state. According to the regulation, the state will receive 51 percent of the total sports betting revenue generated by the two casinos. As a service provider, IGT will get 32 percent of the revenue, whereas the rest of the winnings, around 17 percent, will be paid to the gambling establishments.
The sports betting bill does not offer a definition of this setup – whether it is a revenue sharing scheme, or just an exceptionally high sports betting tax. Whichever it is, however, many experts believe that such a high “tax” might hinder the development of the sector in the state.