The New England Patriots will play for the NFL championship this Sunday in Super Bowl 53.
The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched sporting events on television. It is also one of the most heavily bet upon.
Rhode Island is the only New England state to legalize sports betting and with the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Rhode Island is expecting to rake in a lot of extra cash with people betting on their home team.
Sunday will mark the first Super Bowl since Rhode Island legalized sports betting late last year.
Because the New England Patriots are playing, Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island has extended their hours this week, anticipating one of their busiest weekends since sports betting became legal in November.
“We’re seeing folks coming from throughout the region,” said Craig Sculos, general manager at Twin Rivers Casino. “We’ve gotten folks as far away as Maine, had some folks from Canada. We’re looking probably at our busiest weekend since we have opened.”
Governor Charlie Baker filed legislation last month that would allow sports betting in Massachusetts. With two casinos and a slot parlor in the state, legalization could mean millions for Massachusetts.
The American Gaming Association estimated that around $154 billion were bet on sports in 2016 but, most of that was illegal. Meaning states don’t benefit, but illegal book-makers do.
“People do it anyway,” said John McMahon of Simsbury Connecticut. “Put bookies out of business, but that’s okay. It’s popular now. Will it be more popular because it will be easier, it will be taxed and whatnot? Probably.”
Fifty-one percent of the revenue from sports betting in Rhode Island goes right to the state, and they’re expecting a big boost to their budget super bowl weekend.
Unlike in Rhode Island, Gov. Baker’s bill in Massachusetts would allow online entities, like fantasy sports companies, to be licensed to take wagers.