Patriots playoff run could help lost sports betting revenue
The Sportsbook at Twin River Casino in Lincoln is bustling this week, ahead of a divisional playoff battle between the Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Despite the overwhelming popularity, the initial month-long delay of the launch set the state back millions of dollars in what budget officials had anticipated bringing in.
It was originally thought the state could pull in around $24 million, but after the delay it's looking to be about half of that.
However, if the long shot does happen, lawmakers believe it will be thanks to a long run in the playoffs by the Patriots that will keep local fans betting.
Craig Sculos is the vice president and general manager of Twin River who said, the week leading up to the Patriots divisional showdown has been busy, with a lot of new players, that are Patriots fans, trying out sports betting.
"We are seeing new customers on a regular basis and I think that will definitely escalate through this weekend," he said. "It's the ultimate case of heart versus wallet."
Despite the huge interest of local fans and the popularity of legalized gaming in the state, revenue expectations have been lagging because of the delayed launch.
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D) believes that as long as the Patriots keep playing, the state will be in good shape.
"We're also looking at a $200 million deficit between this current fiscal year and next fiscal year," Ruggerio said. "We're going to need that revenue."
The Senate's top Democrat is also looking to create momentum at the State House for a mobile betting app, that would allow anyone to bet right from their phones.
Ruggerio wants it passed this session as soon as possible.
"We can recover not only that amount but we would make substantially more money on that because of the manner on which those bets would be assembled," Ruggerio said. "We'd have to move very quickly on that."
Back at Twin River, upper management like Sculos is still in an experimental phase of sports betting. He can't say what betting habits will look like if the Patriots lose to the Chargers, or even after the Super Bowl.
"At that point in time, we'll see what the transition does," Sculos said. "Do some of our players start betting more on the NBA, the NHL?"
For those looking to place a bet, the Patriots were favored by four points on Friday.
Kickoff for the Patriots and Chargers is at 1:05 p.m.