Rhode Island Gambling Update – Rumors, Facts and Speculation

News Flash – Rhode Island Gambling Update shows Rhode Island gambling ventures are in the news with a bullet these days. Competition from other New England casinos, sports betting, slot contracts and now mobile sports betting are keeping the Ocean state a-buzz with rumors, facts and speculation. Here’s a Rhode Island Gambling Update to cover all the bases.

Inside the Twin River Casino Sports Book
Inside the Twin River Casino Sports Book

How can such a small state like Rhode Island has such big problems in the gambling-sphere?  For years, Twin River Casino and then Newport Grand Slots just meandered along, improving little by little. Then, “BOOM” – Twin River adds a hotel, Newport is sold to TWMG and closed, only to be resurrected  as a full blown Hotel casino in Tiverton.  How can Rhode Island have so much gambling changes in such a tiny state?

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Sports Betting Going Mobile

These days, it’s all about sports betting.  And now, Ocean State residents and near-by state visitors can sit on one of Rhode Island’s many beaches and bet the NFL, MLB, and other sports – all while working on your tan. But tanning at the beaches will end soon, and so might the mobile app.

The Rhode Island Sports Betting Mobile app
The Rhode Island Sports Betting Mobile app

The state is facing a potential lawsuit claiming that the introduction of mobile sports betting is a constitutional violation. When sports betting was legalized in 2018, the General Assembly required that gaming expansion to only occur at two cites. Tiverton and Lincoln, where the state’s two casinos reside, are the only cities in Rhode Island that voted to legalize sports betting.

So what’s the big deal about this mobile app?  While you must go in person to a casino in Lincoln or Tiverton to set up an account, the app allows people to bet on sports across the state, which is much more than the G.A. approved.

According to Maia Rosenfeld of the Brown Daily Herald,  “the lawsuit against the state, brought by former Providence GOP mayoral candidate Daniel Harrop, is arguing that the mobile betting app violates an article of the Rhode Island Constitution that gives residents the right to vote on any expansion of gambling.”  “I do not consider this to be a case that has anything to do with betting or gambling,” Harrop said. “It’s an issue of rights and a constitutional issue.”

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Slots Contract Problems

As reported earlier week by Miguel on Twitter, there’s a new kid in town and wants to take over Rhode Island’s very successful lottery.  Camelot Lottery Solutions, which recently snatched management of the Illinois Lottery from an IGT-led consortium, wants to bid on Rhode Island’s traditional lottery business if it becomes available. Together, the two companies say, they would hire 1,100 new Rhode Island workers to match those now employed by IGT (International Gaming) and Twin River would build a new headquarters of at least 50,000 square feet somewhere in the state while investing $50 million in Twin River’s casinos here.

This comes after a recent proposal also by Twin River, to employ 1,500 people in Rhode Island and make a $75-million upfront payment to the state to trump the $25 million payment in the IGT proposal.  IGT has promised $75 million in Rhode Island spending over 20 years and agreed to keep its corporate headquarters in Providence, RI. The proposed contract extension would lock in IGT’s right to provide 85% of the slots, which  doesn’t allow Twin River to put the optimum mix of best-performing machines on the floor.

Who makes the best slots?

According to our friend  AKA only a few companies besides IGT supply almost all of the slots in brick-and-mortar casinos. Many are your favorites may not make it to the Twin River Floor, such as:

Unproductive Slots Part of Unproductive Month

Missing Konami and Aristocrat from any casino floor would disappoint patrons.  But when the floor would be 85% IGT, a bigger problem may exist. The Rhode Island Lottery ordered the removal of 360 underperforming video slots machines from both Twin River and Tiverton casinos, all provided by IGT. To make matters worse, August proved to be financially gut-wrenching.  In a single week — Aug. 18 to 24 — TRMG saw a 20.58% drop in video-slot revenue at Twin River Casino from last August. Gambling is Rhode Island’s third-largest source of revenue. Unfortunately, August showed both slots and table games substantially decrease in revenue.  One big reason touted for the decline is the opening of Encore Boston Harbor.

While casino “saturation” is now once again being shouted from the hill tops, Rhode Island needs to get the mobile app settled and make a plan to compete against the other casinos.  A new hotel now seems underwhelming with more needed to be done.



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