PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A state-hired consultant estimates internet gambling could generate $162.6 million in revenue for the state through the first five years of operations, which is about $47 million less than the figure touted by the casino pushing for its legalization.
The R.I. Department of Revenue issued a report this week put together by the consulting firm Christiansen Capital Advisors LLC, forecasting how much the new type of smartphone gambling — often dubbed “iGaming” — would generate in Rhode Island.
The report comes as House lawmakers prepare to unveil their revised version of Gov. Dan McKee’s proposed $13.7 billion budget for the fiscal year which begins July 1. Legalizing iGaming is a legislative priority for Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, despite pushback from advocates who warn it could exacerbate problem gambling.
If approved, the consultant reported iGaming would generate about $24.1 million in general revenue for the state during the first year of operation. (Rhode Island would take a 41% cut from the overall iGaming revenue generated by its would-be operator, Bally’s Corp., operator of the two Twin River casinos.)
Through the first five years of operations, the consultant reported the gambling would generate $162.6 million for the state, which is about 77% of the $210 million Bally’s touted iGaming would bring into state coffers when it first unveiled its push to legalize the gambling in April.
And while the consultant doesn’t predict every dollar spent on iGaming would mean a dollar less spent on in-person gambling at the Bally’s-run casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton, it did warn there isn’t enough data to know exactly how much the new type of gambling would cannibalize in-person slots, table games and poker.
“The reality is that the data is just too limited currently to determine the extent of the impact of iGaming on land-based gaming,” wrote the consultants. “The pandemic and fiscal stimulus during and after have skewed recent performance data too much to be useful. This picture will likely become clearer two years from now when we can analyze ‘normal’ data.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously compared gross revenue to general revenue. It has been updated.