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The numbers say Rhode Islanders aren’t very good at sports betting

The old saying about the house always winning is mostly true

Patrons visit the sports betting area of Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I. in November 2019.Steven Senne/Associated Press

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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I hope Governor McKee gives us a do-over on Memorial Day weekend. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 151,743 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, after adding 42 new cases. The most-recent overall daily test-positive rate was 0.6 percent. The state announced no new deaths, keeping the total at 2,708. There were 66 people in the hospital, and 548,024 residents were fully vaccinated. 


Between November 2018 and April 2021, Rhode Island’s sportsbook (the two casinos and the online wagering app) took in just over $623 million in bets. That’s about $728 for every resident 18 years or older in the state, although it’s worth noting that we get plenty of bettors from Massachusetts and Connecticut.

So are we winning?

The old saying about the house always winning is mostly true, except for February 2019 when the Patriots beat the Rams in the Super Bowl. Overall, the sportsbook has brought in $55.3 million in revenue since legal sports betting arrived in Rhode Island.

That means Rhode Island’s “hold” – the amount the sportsbook keeps as a percentage of the amount wagered – was 8.9 percent over the last 30 months. The national hold rate for all states that legalized sports betting between June 2018 and April 2021 was 7.2 percent.

In other words, Rhode Islanders aren’t quite as good at betting on sports as the experts in Nevada, where the hold rate is 6.2 percent, according to Legal Sports Report, which covers the industry.

Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, and Colorado also have lower hold rates than Rhode Island.


But don’t worry. Rhode Islanders are winning at a higher clip than folks in Washington, D.C., Delaware, Arkansas, and Mississippi. We’re tied with Oregon.

Remember, in Rhode Island, the state collects 51 percent of all sports betting revenue, while IGT gets 32 percent and Twin River/Bally’s earns 17 percent.


⚓  A project to build student housing on Providence’s East Side would help keep rental prices reasonable, but the Brown University’s tax-exempt status raises worries about homeowners’ property tax rates. Read more.

⚓ Outgoing Hope High School principal Matthew J. Buchanan explains why he’s leaving Providence to lead Somerville High School in Massachusetts. Read more.

⚓ At least 1,000 people stopped by on Saturday to visit their alma mater one last time before the East Providence High School is demolished. Read more.

⚓ This week’s Ocean State Innovators Q&A is with Rachel Ajaj from Air & Anchor, a jewelry and lifestyle brand that recently launched their Give a Cuff program, where customers can purchase a box of bracelet cuffs to fundraise for a specific program that the company is supporting, or create and purchase a custom box of cuffs to fundraise for a cause that is important to them. E-mail Alexa Gagosz with suggestions for this weekly interview. Read more.

⚓ The Rhode Island Historical Society recognized former NAACP Providence branch president Clifford Montiero for activism ranging from sleep-ins at the State House to the famous march in Selma, Alabama. Read more.


⚓ I was a guest on “A Lively Experiment” on PBS over the weekend. Watch here.

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Politics: US labor secretary and former Boston mayor Marty Walsh is facing criticism and controversy over his appointment of Dennis A. White as Boston police commissioner – and it’s all started to spill over into his new life in the nation’s capital. Read more.

Technology: The Globe’s editorial board weighs in on how to fix Facebook for good. Read more.

Entertainment: These are the best “Jeopardy!” guest hosts so far. Read more.

Sports: The Celtics might not get to play another home game this season, and the guy who threw a water bottle at Kyrie Irving might be banned from TD Garden for life. Read more.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at

⚓ Governor Dan McKee and Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos are holding their biweekly press conference at 2 p.m.

⚓ The Rhode Island Senate will vote on the proposed IGT/Bally’s contract this afternoon.

⚓ The Senate Finance Committee meets today to discuss federal COVID-19 relief funding.

⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.