Rhode Island Loses $890,000 in February Sports Betting Leading State to Revisit Predicted Totals

Posted on: April 3, 2019, 11:00h. 

Last updated on: April 3, 2019, 11:42h.

Rhode Island lost over $890,000 on sports betting in February, with most of the blame being placed on loyal Patriots’ fans siding with the victorious home team in the Super Bowl.

New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady celebrates this year’s Super Bowl victory. Fan loyalty to the team was blamed for a loss in sports betting revenue in Rhode Island during February. (Image: Gadiel Notelovitz/Fox Sports)

After New England defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, Rhode Island saw only $150,000 in revenue from sports betting at the Twin River casinos.

There is now a wide gap to fill, because officials recently claimed it would give the state’s coffers $11.5 million between Nov. 26 — when it started at the Lincoln casino, then commenced on Dec. 3 at the Tiverton Casino — to the end of June, according to The Associated Press.

Gamblers in the Ocean State bet almost $20.7 million in wagers during February, with the gambling venues paying out close to $21.6 million.

Unfortunately for Rhode Island, the tendency to bet on your hometown team — the Patriots in this case — overwhelmed the odds given,” the Rev. Richard McGowan, an associate professor in the Finance Department at Boston College, and who has written several books on the ethical and historical implications of gambling in America, told Casino.org.

Rhode Island is not alone — many bettors feel obliged to place a bet on their hometown or college team, he explained.

McGowan points out that in other markets “where the Patriots are disliked — actually hated — the sports book won quite a substantial amount of money.”

The state’s budget likely will be adjusted given the amount originally predicted from sports betting, the AP reported.

Sports Betting Popular in Rhode Island

Rhode Island was the first New England state to approve sports betting, and Patrick Kelly, an accounting professor at Providence College, told Casino.org it “seems to be popular with both Rhode Island residents and residents from neighboring states betting at Rhode Island’s two casinos.”

After last May’s Supreme Court ruling, Rhode Island was the eighth state that instituted sports betting, and many others are considering it, including neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts. Last month, Rhode Island became the sixth state to approve some form of online or mobile betting, though it is not underway in all locations yet.

The state is likely to provide an app in November, Rhode Island Department of Revenue spokesman Paul Grimaldi told Casino.org.

Whether the revenue splits for the brick and mortar casinos: the state getting 51 percent; sports book — IGT and William Hill – getting 32 percent; and the venues getting 17 percent are the same for online/mobile betting is “an open question, as it would depend on how the RFP [request for proposals] process plays out,” Grimaldi said.

Sports betting will become more accessible with the online/mobile option, Kelly said, but he says it may also result in increased problem gambling.  He cites research from Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, who estimated that with mobile sports betting some 10,000 Rhode Island residents could develop gambling problems.

State Relied on Consultants

The state may release revised predictions on sports betting revenue. ‘‘We’ll be better able to project revenue as we get more experience,’’ Grimaldi was quoted by the AP. ‘‘I think the people who set their budget gave their best estimates based on the information they had and what the consultants were telling them. In some ways, we’re learning a hard lesson.’’

One positive sign is revenue for March may be higher than February with the NCAA basketball tournament, Grimaldi said. Gamblers wagered $6.4 million during the first round of the tournament and the state is expecting about $500,000 in revenue from the initial round alone, he added.

Rhode Island was one of seven states to unfurl sports betting last year after the US Supreme Court in May rejected a ban that had been put into place by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) in 1992.