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All eyes on glitchy RI sports-betting app heading into Super Bowl weekend

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Heading into the busiest sports betting weekend of the year, Rhode Island’s technology partner IGT continues to field thousands of calls from customers having trouble with the mobile sports-betting app, RI Sports Book.

Ever since the app launched at the beginning of the NFL season last September, gamblers have complained about glitches including login issues, problems finding their accounts and geo-location errors.

Yet while thousands of people continue to call IGT with questions, there are some signs it may be improving. Calls to IGT’s customer support totaled about 3,100 last month compared to 5,300 in September.

“It’s an app that has had some issues, but we’re confident that we’re going to continue to make changes in it,” said IGT Chief Operating Officer Jay Gendron during a press conference Thursday. “We’re very pleased with the sports betting program in its entirety and the mobile app. The numbers are very good. The players are pleased with it.”

Sports betting overall has proven lucrative for the state since it first started in 2018, bringing in about $18 million in revenue during that time. The sports betting app, meanwhile, has brought in an average of $513,000 per month since it first launched last September.

But a review of nearly 180 comments about the app in the iOS App Store shows there’s plenty of frustration surrounding the app, and the state could likely be missing out on bets.

Several users complained that the app “routinely crashes on Sunday,” which is when most NFL games were played this season. About two weeks ago a user called it the “worst app of all time,” and as recently as Sunday a user complained about not being able to log in.

Among other top complaints: bank account issues, locked accounts, and registration and transaction problems. Others claim they can’t bet because the app doesn’t believe they are in the state. (It is illegal to wager a bet in Rhode Island if an app user is physically outside of the state.)

“These issues are generally resolved by walking the player through the necessary steps to ensure the settings on his/her device are enabled to allow for the geo-location,” R.I. Lottery spokesperson Paul Grimaldi wrote in an email. “Also, iOS devices require multiple location confirmations, which is a requirement of Apple. These additional requirements account for the success rate on an iOS device being 82%, compared to Desktop at 94% and Android at 91%.”

Target 12 tried using the app while at the WPRI 12 station in East Providence — near the Massachusetts border — but the app would not allow the transaction, saying, “You must be in the State of Rhode Island to place a bet.”

The Super Bowl could be the app’s biggest test yet, as it wasn’t available yet when gamblers bet $6.5 million last year on Super Bowl LII between the Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.

When the gambler wins, the state loses: last February the state lost nearly $900,000 when the Patriots won and beat the spread.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

Eli Sherman contributed to this story.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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