Mob Bookie: RI Bungled Sports Betting
When Rhode Island projected revenues for its new sports betting industry, maybe it should have relied on an expert—like this former Mob bookmaker.
The state of Rhode Island relied on dodgy revenue projections when it set up its sports betting program, a misstep that could delay its online launch. So says a man who knows all about fraud and crime: a former mob bookmaker known only as “Carmine.”
Earlier this month, Carmine called the state’s projected revenue figures “fraudulent.”
Interviewed by GoLocal, he was once part of an organized crime bookie ring broken up by state law enforcement in the mid-2000s. GoLocal confirmed his bona fides with law enforcement before running the story.
“It is a game of numbers, and Governor Gina Raimondo can’t get there,” said Carmine.
The governor budgeted for $23.5 a year in new revenue to start. Nine months into the fiscal year, the program was supposed to have generated about $16 million. The real figure came in at $900,000.
Carmine told GoLocal, “Rhode Island would have to win more than a million a week, never lose a bet to get to their projections. It’s not going to happen.”
He scoffed at the Rhode Island Lottery and State Revenue office’s explanation that the less-than-stellar numbers were due to locals betting for the Patriots in the Super Bowl (the two William Hill sports books lost big when the Pats clobbered the Rams, 13-3).
He said the numbers would have been worse if the Ocean State had unveiled sports betting earlier last fall. “Rhode Island is lucky to have missed the Red Sox run. All the money would have been on the Sox and Rhode Island would have gotten killed,” he said.
Carmine isn’t the first to criticize the state’s numbers. The American Gaming Association agrees that the state misinterpreted the figures it used to craft its budget.
“We estimated that Rhode Island would generate $6.4 million in sports betting gaming tax revenue, $17.1 million less than the state projected,” AGA Media Relations Director Caroline Ponseti told GoLocal.
Carmine says revenues will decline even more as Massachusetts and Connecticut enter the market.
Meanwhile, the state appears to have put the brakes on launching its sports betting mobile app which could be the most profitable part of sports betting. Legal Sports Report quoted a “source close to the process” who said mobile sports betting would be introduced in the fourth quarter, in time for the football season. That could be a minor disaster given that the state is smack dab in the middle of the New England Patriots fan base.
Tiverton Casino Hotel, one of two Twin River properties in the state, is looking forward to mobile sports betting, said spokeswoman Patti Doyle. “We’re grateful that our customers will have the opportunity to enjoy our sports betting amenity in a new and convenient way … from the convenience of a mobile app.”
The governor also remains optimistic. “I think in the long run the numbers are going to be what we thought, but we got a slower start. Maybe we should have known it was going to be slower and forecasted accordingly. I also think the world is changing and actually the money is going to be on the mobile phone.”