State leaders are hoping for a windfall as Rhode Island becomes the first state in New England with legal sports betting.
Dozens were at Twin River Casino in Lincoln ready to place their bets on the first day of legal sports betting. Gaming makes up about a third of Rhode Island’s revenue, and analysts estimate sports betting will draw more than $11-million this fiscal year.
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio says he hopes future revenue will offset losses to the state, if new casinos open in Massachusetts.
“So those are going to affect what happens over here,” Ruggerio said. “So a casino goes up in Southeastern Massachusetts, it’s certainly going ot have an effect on our Tiverton facility down there. So we’re looking to protect what we have right now. Hoping to increase our revenue.”
Ruggerio says the state is looking to eventually expand to mobile and online sports betting.
Dan Daluz of Seekonk Massachusetts says he’s been waiting years for legal sports betting in Rhode Island.
“At least you have a chance to win money,” Daluz said. “As opposed to casino gambling, you have a 50/50 shot, anything else forget it, you might as well throw your money on the ground.”
Daluz’s first bet? Against the Boston Bruins. Sports betting is set to expand to Twin River’s second location in Tiverton, on the Massachusetts state line in December.