Sports betting officially launches in RI

After almost two months of being held up, Phase One of sports betting at Twin River Casino officially kicked off Monday.

Rhode Island is now the only state in New England to join the lucrative industry.

State leaders are hoping the betting will generate extra revenue and get the attention of Massachusetts and Connecticut residents who could potentially come to Rhode Island to place legal bets.

The plan was originally expected to generate around $23 million by June 30, but after delays, the state is expected to now walk with around $12 million.

The reason for the drop is because estimates were taking into account the first half of the NFL season and the Red Sox potential, and eventual, World Series run.

Some of the first bets were placed by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

“Our revenues are going to be up and those revenues are going to provide some critical services to our citizens,” Mattiello said. “It’s a win for all.”

Ruggerio and Mattiello said the money will be put to use right away.

“School bond referendum coming out, we have a whole bunch of things we have to pay for,” Ruggerio said. “Revenue never hurts.”

Ruggerio said the delay came because of contract negotiations within the gaming industry itself. Although money might be lost, Ruggerio believes it can be made up in time.

“Depends on how successful the local teams are here,” he said. “If they all get into the playoffs I think that will generate a lot of activity and a lot of interest.”

If Ruggerio and Mattiello win their bets, the money will be sent to a local charity of their choice. If they lose, Twin River has promised that each charity will receive at least $500.

Phase Two of sports betting inside Twin River is expected to launch in December. Tiverton is also expected to open its doors to sports betting by the end of the year.