Officials celebrate launch of sports betting in R.I.

Officials celebrate launch of sports betting in R.I.

State Sen. Thomas Paolino places a bet on Monday during the launch of sports betting at Twin River Casino. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

LINCOLN – Sports betting officially launched in Rhode Island this week when Twin River Casino in Lincoln accepted its first ceremonial sports bets Monday.

The first three bets were placed by Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and John Taylor Jr., executive chairman of Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc., with earnings donated to local charitable organizations.

The opening bets marked the launch of Phase I of the casino’s sports betting offerings, located on the third floor in the Simulcast area. Phase I includes a set of odds boards built out in the circa-1940s part of the facility as part of the original racing track. Patrons will be able to bet on both sports games and horses in the Phase I area, christened the Sportsbook at Twin River.

Twin River General Manager Craig Sculos said it’s appropriate for sports wagering to start in this portion of the building due to its history, opening in 1947 as Lincoln Downs. Welcoming sports betting six decades later is a sign of the evolution of the casino and the state, said Sculos. Twin River has invested approximately $1.6 million into the implementation of sports betting.

Taylor described Phase I as “a more traditional implementation of sports betting, like you would normally find at a Las Vegas casino, with lots of TVs, odds boards, betting counters.” Phase 2, he said, “is a more social environment, where people can go and relax on a couch and have a beer and burger.”

A 3,600-square-foot sports lounge with hundreds of television screens and comfy chairs is under construction behind the Wicked Good Bar & Grill. Expected to open mid-December, the Phase 2 lounge was used as rentable banquet space prior to construction, and will seat 200. Sports betting is also expected to launch in Tiverton next month.

The Rhode Island General Assembly approved sports betting in June of this year, making the Ocean State the first state in New England to offer sports betting and the eighth in the nation. Taylor said he’s very excited about being the first in New England, and to “stay and hold that position for as long as possible.”

Also speaking at Monday’s launch event, Mattiello addressed the concerted effort to bring sports gambling to Rhode Island, including state, local and casino leadership, calling Twin River “a great partner to the state of Rhode Island.”

“When the possibility of sports gaming was first envisioned, everybody worked together. Everyone really came together to give a product to the citizens of the state of Rhode Island,” he said. “I think there is a lot of interest in gaming and our citizens, who will get the opportunity to do it legally for the first time because of the collaboration of everyone involved.”

“It takes a team to win a championship, it takes a team to finish first place and it takes a team to be first in New England to accomplish what we’re accomplishing today,” said Sculos. “We are blessed to have an exceptional team.”

Ruggerio joked that he’s waited 40 years for sports betting to come to Rhode Island.

“I keep coming up here every week to see if it actually happened,” he said. “I think this is a great operation, it’s a great asset to the state of Rhode Island and we want to expand the revenue that comes from this facility and the new one in Tiverton.

Ruggerio said he expects sports betting revenues to improve over the next few years, aided by the future onset of mobile betting, which he hopes will lure people from Connecticut and Massachusetts to place bets here.

Sports gambling was originally expected to be available to casino patrons by Oct. 1. Addressing the weeks-long delay in opening, Sculos told members of the media last week that the casino “needed to open when it’s reasonable, safe and smart to do so,” and that they were aiming to open sports betting “as close to Thanksgiving as we can get.”

The delayed launch has cost the state, with the revenue estimating conference reducing its sports betting revenue estimate from $23.5 million to $11.5 million. Rhode Island Department of Revenue spokesman Paul Grimaldi said the delay was due to complex negotiations this summer/fall between Twin River, vendor IGT/William Hill, and the Rhode Island Lottery, “on the various aspects of the sports book operation.”

Ruggerio acknowledged that the Oct. 1 start date written into the legislation was, “very aggressive,” and added that he’s hoping the state can still generate the revenue that officials were looking for.

The state’s sports betting legislation directs 51 percent of the net sport-gaming revenue to the state, 32 percent to IGT and 17 percent to Twin River. Under the agreement, the towns of Lincoln and Tiverton will receive an additional $100,000 from the state for serving as the host communities.

How does it work?

Phase I of Twin River Casino’s sports betting offerings include a traditional Las Vegas-style sports book, with a standard industry wagering menu offered on NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL games, as well as NCAA sports, excluding Rhode Island teams.

The most popular type of sports bet is based on the point spread, or the margin of points in which the team must win by to “cover the spread.” The spread is assigned by bookmakers, “handicapping” one team and favoring the other as more likely to win. The favorite “takes” points from the final score, while the underdog “gives.”

This type of bet is typically offered at 11-to-10 odds, so a player would bet $11 to win $10 for a total payout of $21, or bet $110 to win $100 for a total payout of $210.

The money line is a three-digit number referring to the odds of a team winning the game, in terms of money. Money line bets require the chosen team to win the game outright. Whenever there is a minus (-), the player lays that amount to win $100. A plus (+) means the player wins that amount for every $100 wagered.

For example, -150 means a player must bet $150 for every $100 they wish to win, $15 for every $10 and multiples thereof, while +140 means a player will win $140 for every $100 they bet.

Types of wagers:

1. A STRAIGHT BET is an individual wager on a game or event that will be determined by a point spread, money line or total.

2. A PARLAY is a single bet linking two or more wagers. To win the bet, the player must win all of the wagers in the parlay.

3. A FUTURE BET is a wager placed on an event far in the future, such as next year’s championships.

4. PROPOSITION BETS, or prop bets, focus on the outcome events during a game, and are often offered on multiple games at once. For example, a prop bet could be placed on which team will score first.

5. A TEASER is a type of football or basketball wager in which the point spread is adjusted by additional points in the player’s favor: 6.5, 7 or 10 points in football, or 4, 5 or 6 points in basketball.

6. A ROUND ROBIN is a series of parlays.

The type of wager used often depends on the sport. Those betting on a football game are likely to place a straight bet on the point spread, similar to basketball betting. Baseball, hockey and boxing wagers are based on a three-digit money line, and the payoff varies according to the odds. Full game soccer wagers are official at the completion of a soccer game. Lastly, the payoff on a winning selection for an auto race or golf match varies according to the odds.