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Rhode Island’s Online Casino Launch: A Game Changer

Explore how Rhode Island's imminent online casino launch could counter seasonal dips in revenue, with comparisons to New Jersey's success and forecasts indicating promising growth potential.
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Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation

Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: Mar 6, 2024

Rhode Island's Online Casino Launch: A Game Changer

 

Rhode Island is on the brink of a significant milestone in its gambling landscape: the full launch of its online casino on March 5th, following a soft launch on March 1st. This development couldn't come at a better time for the state, given recent challenges in its casino revenue.

 

Key Movements:

  1. Seasonal Decline in Casino Revenue: Rhode Island experienced a 7.8% decrease in casino revenue in January, reflecting a common seasonal pattern seen across gambling markets nationwide. The decline, primarily driven by a significant drop in slots revenue, underscores the need for innovative strategies to maintain revenue stability throughout the year.
  2. Potential Impact of Online Casino Launch: The upcoming launch of Rhode Island's online casino presents a promising opportunity for revenue growth. Comparisons with states like New Jersey, where online casinos have thrived, indicate the potential for substantial online revenue figures. While exact projections may vary, conservative estimates suggest a positive trajectory for Rhode Island's online gambling market.
  3. Forecasted Revenue Growth: Initial forecasts suggest a conservative yet promising outlook for Rhode Island's online casino revenue. Projections indicate that revenue could start modestly and steadily increase over time, potentially reaching significant milestones such as $5 million by the summer, $10 million by the fall, and $15 million by the end of the year. These forecasts highlight the transformative potential of online gambling in bolstering the state's economic prosperity.

 

Recent data from Rhode Island has shown a concerning trend in casino revenue, with a 7.8% decline reported in January. This decline, while not unique to Rhode Island, reflects a common seasonal pattern seen across gambling markets nationwide. Notably, a substantial portion of this decline—approximately $6 million—can be attributed to a drop in slot revenue.

Rhode Island's two major casinos, Bally's Tiverton and Bally's Twin River, collectively generated $56.1 million in revenue in January, marking a $4.8 million decrease compared to December. Year-on-year, this represents a decline of around $2.5 million or -4.3%.

The breakdown of revenue sources reveals that while sports betting and table games experienced some growth, they couldn't offset the slump in slots revenue. Table games revenue reached $11.7 million, surpassing the December 2023 total by approximately $260,000 and marking the highest figure since April 2023. Similarly, sports betting revenue saw an increase of over $850,000, reaching its highest level since January 2023.

 

As Rhode Island prepares to launch its online casino, we anticipate a transformative impact on the state's gambling landscape. While challenges persist, the potential for substantial revenue growth is undeniable. The launch heralds a new era of opportunity, promising economic benefits and enhanced gaming experiences for residents and visitors alike.

 

However, the standout factor contributing to the disappointing January figures was the more than 10% dip in slots revenue.

The imminent launch of Rhode Island's online casino raises questions about its potential impact on state revenue. Comparisons with other states, particularly New Jersey, provide some insights into potential outcomes. In January, New Jersey's online casinos generated a staggering $183.3 million in revenue, significantly overshadowing the $205 million revenue from its brick-and-mortar properties.

Considering Rhode Island's brick-and-mortar casinos totaled approximately $51 million in slots and table-game revenue in January, there's optimism that online casino revenue could reach substantial figures. While it's unrealistic to expect an exact replication of New Jersey's success due to differences in market maturity and operator numbers, conservative estimates suggest a promising trajectory for Rhode Island's online casino revenue.

 

Conclusion

Initial forecasts indicate that online revenue could start modestly, potentially reaching $5 million by the summer, $10 million by the fall, and $15 million by the end of the year. However, it's essential to recognize that these are projections and actual figures may vary based on various factors such as consumer adoption, marketing strategies, and regulatory developments.

In conclusion, Rhode Island's foray into online casino gaming represents a significant opportunity for revenue growth in the state's gambling industry. While challenges and uncertainties remain, the launch of the online casino signals a new era in Rhode Island's gambling landscape, one that holds the promise of economic benefits and enhanced gaming experiences for residents and visitors alike.

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