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Delay in start of sports betting costs Rhode Island millions

November 12, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A delay in the start of sports betting in Rhode Island is costing the state millions in expected revenue.

The state budget included $23.5 million in revenue from sports betting through June 30, assuming an Oct. 1 start. Analysts recently cut that total by $12 million because the launch has been delayed until “around Thanksgiving,” The Providence Journal reported .

Rhode Island missed out on revenue from bets that would’ve occurred when the NFL season began and during the World Series. Some of the loss has been made up by an additional $7.9 million in revenue from slot machines and table games, though.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law earlier this year that made most sports gambling illegal. Rhode Island is the only New England state that has passed legislation legalizing sports betting so far.

It will be allowed at Twin River’s casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton.

The state has said that negotiations with the vendor who will manage sports betting services took longer than expected. State Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said he’s frustrated with the delay in the implementation.

Rhode Island will get 51 percent of the revenue. The vendor will get 32 percent and the casino will get 17 percent.

Providence-based IGT and its commercial partner, William Hill U.S., have a five-year agreement with the state to manage sports betting services. Their software for setting the odds and processing bets was given to the state lottery last week for testing, Rhode Island Department of Revenue spokesman Paul Grimaldi said Monday. Sports betting will begin after the testing finishes, he added.

Grimaldi did not have an estimate for how lucrative the market could potentially be in the future. He said that will depend on how popular sports betting is among Rhode Islanders, whether Massachusetts and Connecticut residents travel to Rhode Island to place bets and whether tourists visiting Newport go to the Tiverton casino, which is about 30 minutes away.

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