During the summer, optimism was through the roof about the arrival of legalized sports betting in Rhode Island.
Things have changed, however.
The Ocean State initially planned to launch sports wagering at Twin River Casino on Oct. 1. When that date was approved, state budget writers added $23.5 million from Twin River into the fiscal 2018-2019 budget.
But the launch has been pushed back to “around Thanksgiving,” and the delay — coupled with tax collections running under budget — could cost Rhode Island as much as $5 million in revenue, the Providence Journal’s Patrick Anderson reported Sunday, citing new estimates.
“I am frustrated with the delay in the implementation of sports gaming, and hopeful that it will be available in the very near future,” senate president Dominick Ruggerio said, via the Journal. “Sports gaming provides the state with revenue that offsets reliance on taxes to support essential state services, such as education and fixing roads and bridges.
“I support expansion of sports gaming as an entertainment option for Rhode Islanders, and my staff is currently researching mobile gaming as we prepare for the 2019 session.”
It’s hardly financial doom and gloom in Rhode Island, though. Sales tax collections reportedly were revised up $10 million and overall gambling revenue witnessed a $7.9 million bump, helping to offset the losses of anticipated sports-betting income.
“I am pleased to see our revenue estimates are mostly holding this year and staying strong for next year,” house finance committee chairman Marvin Abney said, via the Journal. “We will continue to keep an eye on items with the greatest uncertainty, like sports betting, which has been delayed several weeks.”
Although sports betting won’t be offered on mobile platforms this year, there is optimism that people will be able to place legal bets on their devices in 2019.