Rhode Island gambling has taken an important next step.
With the launch of its first online/mobile sports betting app on Wednesday, Rhode Island became the sixth state to allow punters the option of placing wagers over the internet.
The Ocean State was the seventh outside of Nevada to launch legal sports betting back on November 26 of last year, a little over six months after the U.S. Supreme Court repealed a federal ban on the industry. But the original Rhode Island law only allowed for sportsbooks to be operated at the state’s two Twin River Casino venues in the towns of Tiverton and Lincoln.
Both of the Twin River sportsbooks are overseen by the Rhode Island Lottery, which contracts with International Game Technology (IGT) and William Hill to provide backend technology and bookmaking, respectively.
And as Lottery spokesman Paul Grimaldi told the Providence Journal when the Sportsbook Rhode Island online / mobile app launched this week, integrating the internet is a major step up for the state’s budding sportsbook industry:
“It is an important milestone for the lottery. We are starting before the [National Football League] season as promised.
We know this is something people want, and we expect it to be a popular option.”
In August of last year, New Jersey was the first state other than Nevada to take advantage of the Supreme Court ruling by setting up an online/mobile sports betting industry. West Virginia followed suit last December, followed by Pennsylvania this May, and Iowa last month.
Other states like New York have gone live with brick and mortar sports betting, but have failed to add online/mobile access.
And in Tennessee, the only sports betting bill which limits wagers exclusively to the internet was passed this May and is still awaiting implementation.
All told, 11 states – Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Arkansas, New York, Iowa, Oregon, and Indiana – have launched regulated sports betting in various capacities since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992.
While bettors can access the Sportsbook Rhode Island app from anywhere within state lines, they must first pay a visit to one of the Twin River casino sportsbooks to register their account.
The Twin River Lincoln location began accepting online/mobile registrations on launch day, but the Twin River Tiverton sister site won’t have that capability until next week at the earliest.
Sportsbook Rhode Island – which was developed for the Rhode Island Lottery by IGT and delivered to regulatory testers in July – is available through both the iOS and Android mobile app stores. Once the app has been downloaded to an applicable mobile device, bettors must bring a valid state photo ID to the sportsbook for authentication and activation.
Once the app has been connected to the bettors banking method of choice, they can use it to place wagers from anywhere within Rhode Island’s borders.
Asked about possible concerns over “cannibalization” – or the concept that online/mobile access will keep bettors at home rather than onsite – Twin River Lincoln regional executive director of cage operations Joe Franklin told the Providence Journal that he wasn’t worried:
“I truly believe you have to be here for the experience of the game, the crowd.”
Franklin’s operation at Twin River Lincoln includes the massive Sportsbook Bar and Grill, outfitted with 100 television screens and a betting board displaying odds provided by William Hill bookmakers.