Mobile sports betting moved one step closer to becoming a reality in Rhode Island on Tuesday when a committee in the Rhode Island House of Representatives approved a measure that would provide for online and mobile wagering at authorized hosting facilities across the state.
The bill, H 5241, passed in the House Committee on Finance with very little opposition. Now, the measure will head to the full House for approval before being sent to Governor Gina Raimondo for her signature.
The measure is sponsored by Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello (D-District 15). Under the measure, customers are required to apply for a mobile account at one of the state’s two casinos, similar to bill S 37, which was approved by the Rhode Island Senate in February.
One major issue that Rhode Island has seen so far with its sports betting operation is the long lines at the betting windows at its casinos. With customers coming from neighboring states like Connecticut and Massachusetts, the state’s two casinos have dealt with large crowds of people that they have been having a hard time facilitating in a timely manner. The implementation of mobile sports betting will almost certainly alleviate some of that trouble.
Rhode Island’s sports betting numbers haven’t exactly been what the state was hoping for so far. As of January 31, the two casino sportsbooks generated revenue of $1.19 million, according to Rhode Island Lottery figures. The New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl (and covering the spread) resulted in nearly a $2.5 million loss for the state.
Lawmakers in Rhode Island initially budgeted $23.5 million in annual revenue from legalized sports betting. That number was then revised to $11.5 million for the current fiscal year, due to the delayed launch.
As New Jersey has shown (80 percent of state’s handle in January came through online wagering at sites like Fanduel, Sugarhouse and Draftkings), mobile sports betting will certainly increase revenue for the state as it provides ease of access to its residents 24/7.
The state collects a 51 percent tax rate on gross gaming revenue from sports betting. The same rate would apply if mobile sports betting were to be legalized.
As reported by the Providence Journal, Rhode Island Lottery officials expect that a mobile sports betting app could be operational within six months of passage of the bill.