Rhode Island sports betting revenue has declined

  • Rhode Island sportsbooks handled only $11.1 million in sports wagers and earned only $1 million in revenue between March 1 and May 31.
  • This drastic decrease is largely the product of the state’s legal requirement that online betting accounts be registered in person.
  • Casinos are reopening betting lines and odds and major sports leagues are preparing to resume, but full financial recovery is likely months away.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Despite a sizable uptick in May, Rhode Island sportsbooks have seen a drastic decrease in handle and revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, in February alone, Rhode Island sportsbooks handled $28.2 million in sports wagers and earned $2.3 million in sports betting revenue.

From March 1 to May 31, Rhode Island handled a total of $11.1 million, just 39% of their February total. They also collected just $1 million in revenue—44% of February.

This massive decrease is largely inherent to the lack of sports betting options available, but it is worse in Rhode Island than in many other legal sports betting states because of Rhode Island’s requirement that all mobile betting accounts be registered in-person at one of the state’s two retail sportsbooks.

For comparison, Pennsylvania does not impose an in-person sign-up requirement for mobile betting accounts, and its sportsbooks have seen much smaller decreases in handle and revenue.

The Rhode To Recovery For Rhode Island Sportsbooks

While there is nothing Rhode Island can do about its in-person registration requirement for the time being, it will remain an impediment on sports betting revenues until casinos are able to safely reopen.

That process is already underway, but it appears that officials are taking things slowly.

Rhode Island’s casinos reopened on June 8, but capacity has been reduced to just 25% of maximum occupancy, and strict social distancing measures are enforced. Additionally, all patrons are subjected to a body temperature screening and attendance is by invitation only.

Invites are reserved for existing members of casino rewards programs for the time being, which will greatly limit the number of people who can register online betting accounts.

Sports betting handle and revenue should still increase sharply in the coming months as major American sports leagues like the NBA, MLS and MLB are set to resume play in late July, but until Rhode Island residents are able to freely register for online betting, revenues will be lower than they should.

Even once Rhode Island reaches Phase III of its reopening plan and casinos are once again available to the full betting public, many bettors will likely remain hesitant to visit a crowded casino.

All these factors taken together indicate that Rhode Island sportsbooks are still months away from a full financial recovery from COVID-19.

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