Rhode Island Removed In-Person Registration for Bettors

Rhode Island approved the bill that removed the need for a physical visit to a casino for anyone willing to open a sports betting account. St.Gov. Gina Raimondo signed HB8097 into law Thursday to facilitate the onboarding of new customers for the sports books operating in the state.

Last week the number of US states that require in-person registration for a sports betting account went down to 3, Nevada, Iowa and Illinois, as Rhode Island approved the amendment to remove that requirement. Both House and Senate passed HB8097 which sought to facilitate the process of new customer onboarding, July 16, sending the bill to the governor for the final signature.

Official Data Showed Potential

Lawmakers in the state argued that the physical registration requirement was a significant barrier for new customer acquisitions for the sports betting operators, as according to data from the state’s Department of Revenue, around 14,000 people have begun the registration process for mobile betting but never completed it. Besides that, the conversion rate from the number of sports book app downloads in the state was 45%, with the industry average being nearly double that, 75%.

The hidden potential represented by the data could not be overlooked by the state, especially in light with the significant decline in tax receipts from sports betting operations. Rhode Island posted  a huge drop in state revenue in May, more than 3 times less than the year before due to the industry’s revenues sinking to a mere million-and-a-half from nearly $15 million in May 2019.

Besides looking to fully utilize the in-house potential, lawmakers in the state were hoping to attract bettors from neighbouring Massachusetts as residents there could just cross the state line and register and then cross again to place bets through their mobile phones. That hope was based on a similar pattern which appeared in New Jersey when the state approved mobile sports books and bettors from New York crossed the Hudson River on a regular basis for sports betting purposes.

Now when St.Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed HB8097 into law, expectations are that remote registration will be up and running within a month, just in time for the start of the new National Football League (NFL) season, provided that it starts as scheduled.

Information Game Technology (IGT), one of the biggest technology suppliers for the sports betting and gaming industry and the engine behind both William Hill sports books in the Twin River’s casinos in Tiverton and Lincoln, confirmed it was already taking steps to implement mobile registration.

Out of the 3 remaining states that require in-person registration for sports betting, only Nevada does not plan to remove that requirement in the foreseeable future, as Iowa will allow remote registration at the beginning of next year, while Illinois will wait until the state issues its online-only license which is bearing a fee of $20 million. Illinois, however, temporary removed that requirement due to the restrictions imposed by the virus outbreak.

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