R.I. Lottery shares revenue picture heading into 2021 budget season

REVENUES from video lottery terminals, or slot machines came to a halt coinciding with the closure of Rhode Island casinos. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND LOTTERY.

PROVIDENCE The R.I. Lottery shared a summary of stunted revenues with state officials on Wednesday, giving budget officials a view of the damage to the state budget left by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state lottery, one of Rhode Island’s top three revenue sources, was impacted by the closure in mid-March of the state’s two casinos, as well as sporting events that drive interest in online betting, and of restaurants and bars that host the machines used for Keno and bingo games.

Gerald Aubin, director of the Rhode Island Lottery, speaks to state budget officials on Wednesday about lottery revenues. / COURTESY CAPITOL TV.


As a result, revenues all but stopped by mid-March. “We were having a really good year, up to six weeks ago,” said Gerald Aubin, lottery director.

- Advertisement -

In a summary of the finances through March 30, Lottery officials reported that revenues were down compared to the same period in 2019 across all but one category.

The losses:

Traditional lottery games such as Lucky for Life and PowerBall have declined 8.56%, or by $11.9 million.

Monitor games of Keno and Bingo have declined 2.2%, or by $1.3 million.

Net revenue for casino-based slot machines, which are video lottery terminals, have declined 12.37%, or by $48.2 million.

Table game revenue from the casinos have declined 32.6%, or by $39.6 million compared to same period in 2019.

The sports book, including mobile betting, is the only activity that has had a positive impact for the first three quarters of the fiscal 2020 year. It increased by $118.9 million through the end of March.

Because of the sports betting, the overall revenue for the first three quarters of the fiscal year is up by about 2%, or $18 million.

Immediately after Aubin’s presentation, state budget officials asked when and how the casinos might reopen.

He reported that the Lottery is working with Twin River Worldwide Holdings executives on a plan for a phased re-opening, which would have to be approved by state officials and the R.I. Department of Health.

The proposal will suggest that slot machines be the first offering brought back for public use, although limited in number due to social distance requirements. When asked what that might look like, Aubin said the state could offer 1,600 slot machines at Twin River Lincoln Casino and 380 at the Tiverton casino.

If Gov. Gina M. Raimondo restricts the casinos to Rhode Island residents only, that could be easily accommodated, Aubin said. About 60% of the patrons at the casinos are from out-of-state, he told budget officials.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com.

No posts to display