Rhode Island set to begin sports betting

Rhode Island set to begin sports betting

June 26, 2018 3:00 AM
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In Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo legalized sports betting in the state as part of a $9.6 billion budget she signed off on Friday for fiscal 2019.

The budget for the fiscal year starts July 1 and estimates $23.5 million of new revenue from sports betting, even though the two state casinos that are authorized to take wagers are not expected to begin doing so until Oct. 1.

The law most significantly allows the state to keep 51 percent of the revenues from the wagers. There’s no current provision for any online sports wagering.

“We wanted to start small and make sure we have the operational system down pat in the casinos before we explore online or mobile,” said Paul Grimaldi, spokesman for the state’s Department of Revenue.

The department oversees the Rhode Island Lottery, which will operate sports betting in addition to existing games of chance including Powerball and instant scratch-off tickets.

International Game Technology (IGT), now a U.K.-based gaming company with a major office in Providence, was the sole bidder to be the state’s sports betting technology vendor. It’s not clear if IGT will “risk manage” sports betting itself or bring in another company to manage the taking of wagers. IGT will keep 32 percent of profits and the casinos 17 percent.

Prospective sports bettors will be able to place bets at the two Twin River-owned casinos, one of which is set to open in September.

There’s no provision to pay the major sports leagues a fee or a percentage of revenues for booking their contests. Rhode Island now joins Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi (expected to take sports bets in a few weeks) in authorizing Nevada-style sports wagering after the U.S. Supreme

Court ruled in May that the federal prohibition on the practice was unconstitutional.