PROVIDENCE, R.I., (WJAR) -- Rhode Island gave nearly $1.2 million to New England Patriots fans after the team’s sixth Super Bowl victory.
The total amount paid to winners in the biggest event in the state’s 10-week old sports betting operation was $2,350,048, according to the Rhode Island Department of Revenue, or DOR. The state’s share was $1,198,524.48.
"Obviously, I’m sad for the state but that happens," Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, a Democrat who represents North Providence, told NBC 10 News Wednesday. "That’s why they call it gambling."
Paul Grimaldi, chief of information for the DOR, said in a statement: "The Super Bowl proved to be great advertising for the new gaming amenity.”
Lawmakers apprised of the state’s $1.2 million loss said it’s part of being in the gambling game.
"A small price to pay for a Patriots win," said Rep. William O'Brien, D-North Providence.
He also predicted the state would make the money back during March Madness. He’s also promoting another measure to increase sports betting efficiency.
The sports betting operations at Rhode Island two casinos have been so successful, he and others would like a mobile phone app to allow people bet from outside the casinos.
"It would relieve the lines. The biggest problem we have is the lines," O'Brien said. "This would completely eliminate the lines for anyone who has the app."
Safeguards include registering at the casino to download the app. Then, it can be determined that gamblers are over 18.
"To get the app you’d have to apply and get an account. So, you can’t just download the app and start gambling," O’Brien told NBC 10.
All bets would have to be made from within the state, which can be verified by the GPS systems on smart phones.
Lawmakers are so eager to realize increased revenue from gambling, that legislation authorizing the app has been fast-tracked at the State House.
"It’s been scheduled in the House for next week. We want to get this done before the budget, so that’s why we took it out of the budget process and put it into legislation," O'Brien said.
He’d like it to be in place for people to bet on the NCAA basketball tournament in March.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs unanimously passed its version of the bill Wednesday night. It is expected to go to the full Senate next week.
The House Finance Committee is expected to discuss its version of the bill on Thursday.
Below is a full rundown of the numbers from the busy betting weekend: