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Rhode Island Could Scrap In-Person Sports Betting Registration

Rhode Island lawmakers are considering getting rid of the in-person registration requirement for those who wish to participate in sports betting. 

An amendment to House Bill 8097 (H 8097), which regulates the vertical in the state, was put forward last week. 

Should lawmakers agree to the changes proposed by Representatives Nicholas Mattiello and Marvin Abney, players will be able to complete their sports betting account registrations remotely. 

Rhode Island was one of the first US markets to regulate sports betting in November 2018, following the repeal of PASPA earlier that year. 

Bill amendments are by no means complicated 

As things stand, players in Rhode Island can begin the registration process for a sports betting account via their cell phone or desktop device. However, they must conclude procedures at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln.. 

Mattiello and Abney have taken out just 16 words from the current legislation in their proposed amendments. The duo want the definition of an online gaming account to be changed to the following. 

“An account opened by a patron that such patron shall use for the deposit and withdrawal of funds used for online sports wagering.”

The proposal will be passed onto the House Finance Committee, who will decide whether or not this can move forward. The state’s Legislature has been out-of-action for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is set to resume this week. 

If the proposals are accepted, they would come into law with immediate effect. 

Has in-person registration hindered the growth of sports betting in Rhode Island? 

Rhode Island is a rarity when it comes to players having to complete their registration in-person. Illinois had included similar measures in its original sports betting legislation, but due to the pandemic has temporarily halted said requirement. 

Most of the states in the US allow players to complete their account registrations remotely. This includes neighboring New Hampshire, which opted to pass sports betting into law last year. Currently, DraftKings is the sole sports betting operator present in the state. 

In-person registration for sports betting was introduced in the 2019 legislature. This followed slow growth for the vertical in its first year, for which mobile wagering had not been available. 

In October 2019, just 45% of the 12,000 players that had been on the database in the previous month had completed their registration at either of the state’s land-based casinos. That was according to Lottery Director Gerald Aubin. As a result, the majority of those initial database players were unable to bet on sports. 

Rhode Island reveals May sports betting figures 

A couple of weeks ago, Rhode Island revealed how licensed sportsbooks in the state had performed during May. Year-on-year revenue declined 71.6%, largely due to the impact of coronavirus. Revenue reached $163,472, when it had been $574,703 in May 2019. 

Year-on-year sports betting handle was also significantly lower. Players wagered just $1.5 million, compared to $14.6 million in May 2019. This represented an 89.7% total decrease. 

The good news for Rhode Island, however, is that sports betting showed signs of recovery on a monthly basis. May’s revenue figure was 475.8% higher than had been the case in the previous month, when operators generated $28,202.

Other verticals have also been given a recent boost. Last week, table games were permitted to return at both of Rhode Island’s land-based casinos.

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