Sports betting in RI set to start around Thanksgiving

LINCOLN, R.I. (WLNE) — After a nearly two-month delay, sports betting in Rhode Island could finally be up and running as soon as next week. Despite the late start, our state will still be first in New England to offer it.

“I’m very disappointed because we depended on that revenue for a number of things affecting this coming year’s budget,” said Senate President Dominick Ruggerio.

Ruggerio estimates the state lost out on between $5 million and $6 million in revenue from sports betting, which was supposed to start October 1st. Ruggerio says this was due to issues between Twin River and vendor IGT. Still, by starting around Thanksgiving, Rhode Island still beats both Massachusetts and Connecticut to the sports betting punch.

“I think we’re in a lot better shape than those two states,” said Ruggerio.

At Twin River in Lincoln there will be two separate Sports Betting areas. Opening first will be a repurposed space on the third floor, which is ready for business.

“They worked hard, they got it done. Within 10 to 12 days it was ready to go,” said Twin River Senior Vice President of Operations Mike Barlow.

Then, in mid-December, a larger space will open downstairs–complete with a bar and food service for those placing bets.

“Which is a more social atmosphere, a lounge atmosphere, about a hundred seats, and over 100 TVs,” said Barlow.

Casino officials say sports betting will bring in up to 45 jobs, and hopefully a brand new clientele.

“Being first into the market is important. It allows us to raise the flag, sort of expand what our casino offerings are. Our goal is to bring people into the property that have never been here before,” said Twin River General Manager Craig Sculos.

For those who’d rather bet off site, President Ruggerio says he hopes to see mobile gaming approved early next year.

“More convenient for the public. They can do it from home. They can do it anywhere from the confines of the state of Rhode Island,” said Ruggerio.

An exact start date for sports gambling in Lincoln will be announced in the coming days. Twin River officials say it’ll still be about a month before sports betting is available at the new casino in Tiverton.

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