Rhode Island’s Legal Sportsbooks Experience A Tough First Year

July 19, 2019 by Natalie Whitehead

A year has gone by since Rhode Island legalized sports betting and the numbers that are coming in are not as impressive as they were expected to be. There are quite a few reasons for the low numbers.

One of the reasons is due to the fact that gamblers in Rhode Island are winning more than other states – which is good for them but bad for the industry.

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming data showed that Rhode Island was the only state with a legalized sports betting industry that lost money in the last 12 months. When the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in Feb 2019, Rhode Island sports betting numbers showed that a total of $20.7 million in bets were placed but $21.6 million was paid out in Feb.

One reason for this was due to the fact that the majority of bettors in the state backed the Patriots and got it right.

Despite the low earnings, experts are optimistic of the state’s chances of bouncing back. That is if the Patriots don’t win again. If the Los Angeles Rams had won the Super Bowl, then Rhode Island’s sports betting industry would be on the other side of the equation, posting one of the best hold rates in the country. Hold rates is the amount of money that sportsbooks have after all the winnings have been collected. Currently Rhode Island’s 4.18 percent hold rate is the lowest in the country.

RI Expects Turnaround

The main problem facing the Rhode Island sports betting industry is that it is not earning as much as it should. Part of this could be blamed on its late start but projections stated it would generate $23.5 million from sports betting during the 2018-19 fiscal year. Now expectations have been lowered to just $11.5 million. Even then, official are not expecting sports betting revenues to hit this number. Currently, the state collects 51 percent of all sports betting revenue.

Experts say that Rhode Island’s difficulties with sports betting are part of the growing pains of the industry and will most likely not be repeated in the coming years. It is inevitable that the house wins so Rhode Island is betting that its gamblers will be losing more in the coming fiscal year. Projections already put sportsbook earnings to be at $30 million. This is mostly from the state’s decision to allow mobile sports betting.

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If there is one topic that really gets Natalie excited it has to be the mathematics of gambling, having worked for a major gaming company in the audit department she loves nothing more than revealing all manner of facts and figures. Many of her news stories relate to both online and bricks and mortar gaming and are always worth checking out.

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