Over 12,000 sign up for RI mobile sports betting

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 12,000 people have signed up for online sports betting in Rhode Island since the new offering launched last month, though many have not taken the final step to activate their accounts.

To comply with the Rhode Island Constitution, after downloading and registering on Rhode Island’s sports betting smartphone app, gamblers are required to go to one of Twin River’s two state-owned casinos and activate their accounts.

At a legislative oversight hearing Monday, Lottery Director Gerald Aubin said about 45% of the individuals who’ve signed up for the app since it went live Sept. 4 have finished the process by visiting the Lincoln or Tiverton casinos, meaning just under 6,000 people can actually place bets as of now.

About 500 to 600 people have been signing up each week, according to Aubin. State Rep. Bill O’Brien, chairman of the Permanent Joint Committee on State Lottery, called the numbers “very good” so far.

Mobile sports bets can only be placed while a person is physically in Rhode Island. (A group of Republicans are mounting a court challenge against the legalization of sports betting, saying it should have gone to a voter referendum.)

Aubin also said the state is doing “extremely well” on the hold for sports betting, meaning the amount of money retained after winning wagers are paid out. Bets on NFL games through Week 6 of the season totaled $17.9 million, with $15.8 million paid out, netting just over $2 million in revenue.

The news was less cheery on the state’s overall gambling revenue, which at over $400 million accounted for Rhode Island’s third-largest source of state funds in 2018-19.

Aubin said net revenue from all types of gambling — slot machines, scratch tickets, sports betting and the rest — is running $17.4 million below forecast as of Saturday. It’s supposed to bring in $413 million by June 30.

Slot revenue was down nearly 14% at Twin River’s flagship Lincoln casino, while table games are down nearly 20%, though officials said they are seeing signs of an upswing as the novelty of the new Encore Boston Harbor wears off.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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