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Thinking out loud: What to make of sports betting in Rhode Island

John Rooke
November 30, 2018 - 3:35 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering if a hot dog should be considered a “sandwich?”

  • We’re #1!  We’re #1!  We’re #1…in sports betting in New England!  Legal sports betting.  Gotta be good at something besides quahogs and coffee milk, I suppose.


  • Twin Rivers’ new sports book opened this past week to a ton of fanfare throughout the media – and sports radio – to be sure.  But I’m just gonna ask the question here – did Rhody miss out on the real bonanza?


  • The two legal pot shops in Massachusetts, in Northampton and Leicester, brought in a reported $2.2 million worth of revenue in their first five days of sales.


  • Not for nuthin’, but there are presently seven states offering legal sports betting: Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.


  • And leave it to Lil’ Rhody to continue reinventing the wheel.  Senate President Dominick Ruggerio is working on a bill to allow fans to place sports bets from anywhere within the state.  Mobile sports betting. 


  • And I’m still figuring out how to answer my voice mail on my phone.


  • Fifty-one percent of the revenue from sports betting will go to the state, with the gaming vendor getting 32 percent and the casino taking in 17 percent of the total proceeds.


  • All in all, it’s taken us a long time to start cashing in on our vices, has it not?  Like, since prohibition?  Stupid is as stupid does.


  • But better late than never, I suppose.  At least with the sports book, that extra traffic and sketchy ‘clientele’ currently swarming the two Massachusetts towns isn’t yet a problem.  But just wait.  The odds are about 50-50 for legal, recreational marijuana consumption in the Ocean State to become reality in the next year, maybe two.


  • There are bills in both the House and Senate being considered.  Meanwhile, medical marijuana use has been legal in Rhode Island since 2006.  But a reminder for the idiots who tramped into the Dunk the other night, reeking of pot so badly I could smell it wafting onto the floor, it is still illegal to smoke pot in public.


  • Your friendly, neighborhood, discretionary curmudgeon at work.  Now, get off my lawn.


  • In honor of American Sandwiches Week – so I’ve been told, it is – an homage to Sloppy Joe’s.  Loved them as a kid, still love them as an older kid.  I don’t care who knows.  Also love visiting the joint in Key West, FL that helped make them famous in the first place.  Sloppy Joe’s bar, of course. 


  • Wallet Hub says Boston is the country’s #1 sports city.  Professionally-speaking, it’s hard to argue.  Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. adults claim to be sports fans, according to their research.  That’s great and all, but no one can figure out a way to show up, with any regularity, for a football or basketball game at Boston College, huh?


  • Providence was rated 29th among midsized cities (Cincinnati was 1st, Green Bay 2nd, FYI).  New Haven, CT, Cambridge, MA and Worcester all finished ahead of Providence. 


  • Must’ve been that losing-a-minor-league-baseball-team-thing that happened earlier this year to knock ‘em down in the rankings, I guess?  Predictably, Pawtucket isn’t even on the map.


  • Of note within Boston’s ranking – the Hub does have the highest average MLB ticket price, at nearly $57 per ducat.  Keep that in mind as you scream for the Red Sox to overpay a few guys to keep them around for next season’s title defense.


  • Loved this one – Boston was ranked as the top hockey city, but Pittsburgh’s fans were 28% friendlier and more engaged.  Is that because Bruins’ fans want to take you outside if you’re wearing another team’s sweater? 


  • I’d argue that’s PRECISELY what makes Boston a better hockey city.  Just sayin’.  Kinda.


  • Favorite Sandwich #2 – is the leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.  My buddy Pete Brock (the former Patriot center) and I have had passionate discussions over what makes a GREAT turkey sandwich.  And we came up with this – white meat, gravy, a little mayo, leftover stuffing and a smattering of cranberry sauce on top.  Heated so it will all melt together, just right.  Good eatin’.


  • Say what you want about cartoons being just for kids, but SpongeBob Squarepants is one ‘kids’ cartoon I have always appreciated.  And watched, thanks to my one-time eight-year-old son at home.  Who’s now 23.  And I still watch, secretly, when I can.


  • It’s thinly-veiled adult humor behind the mask of a talking sponge and his best friends, a starfish (Patrick) and a squid (Squidward) living under the sea in the town of Bikini Bottom, in case you weren’t aware.  Their creator, Stephen Hillenburg, passed away this week at age 57 after a fight with ALS.


  • PC vs. URI.  It’s what most of this state looks forward to every December, from Woonsocket to Westerly, and I assume this year is no exception.  Especially with Rhode Island snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Friars last season at the Ryan Center.


  • This season’s Rams had an early scare from the Brown Bears Wednesday night in Kingston, as Rhody fired mostly blanks at the basket from long-distance.  Still, the athleticism is there – and it was too much for an improved Brown team to handle in a 71-51 loss.


  • One of the items that has always fascinated and intrigued me about the PC-URI rivalry – is that the two schools can’t agree on how many times they’ve played each other in basketball.  Providence says this weekend is the 129th meeting.  Rhody says it’s #131.  The two teams played their first games against each other in 1920 and 1921, as exhibitions.  PC lost both. 


  • As such, they didn’t count as ‘official’ games played.  But they count for URI.


  • The initial, brand new “NET” ratings for college basketball were released this week, with the Friars ranked 115th (out of 353) in Division I.  That spot was also good for last in the Big East.  Anyone see this coming? 


  • It’s a by-product of a few things, including an algorhythm that may have a few kinks to work out, and not much to be worried about just yet.  But it would be a good idea for the Friars to find a road win somewhere – anywhere – before conference play starts just prior to the New Year.


  • Sandwich #3 – an homage to the oldy-but-goody “Fluffernutter.”  Did you have these as a kid?  Do you still have them now?  What I learned about the Fluffernutter – peanut butter with marshmallow fluff between two pieces of white bread – is that this is a New England creation.  And I grew up with them as a kid in Texas.


  • Marshmallow fluff was invented in the basement of a Melrose, MA home in the early 1900’s as a way of providing some protein to meatless diets during World War I.  With peanut butter, it was originally known as the “Liberty Sandwich.”  The name “Fluffernutter” came from the original marshmallow fluff creator and parent company, Durkee-Mower.


  • The Providence College Athletic Hall of Fame announced 12 new inductees for this year, and the class includes former Friar basketball great Jamel Thomas, hockey standout Mario Proulx and team physician Al Puerini.  Thomas is still 6th all-time in scoring at PC, and Proulx remains the all-time winningest goaltender with 64 career victories.  The induction ceremony dinner takes place February 22nd at the Providence Biltmore.


  • In my mind, Thomas hit one of the biggest shots in PC hoop history, right alongside Ernie ‘Pop’ Lewis’ three to beat Georgetown in 1987 and Gordie Holmes’ shot to beat Notre Dame in 1956.  Jamel’s corner three to tie Arizona in the 1997 Elite Eight, and force overtime against the eventual national champions that year, was as big – and as sweet – a stroke as any I’ve seen.


  • Undefeated St. John’s (6-0) tops the Big East in NET rankings (29th).  And the Red Storm added a weapon for next season this week, by pulling in 6-9 NC State transfer Ian Steere.


  • St. John’s (Legends Classic) was also one of four league teams to win an in-season tournament championship, along with Creighton (Cayman Islands), Villanova (Advocare in Orlando) and Seton Hall (Wooden Legacy).  Providence lost in the Hall of Fame finals to 9th ranked Michigan at Mohegan Sun and will play in Anaheim at the Wooden Legacy next Thanksgiving.


  • Strange story with 6-9 uber recruit Akok Akok, who was one of the national top-rated incoming freshmen for the Class of 2019 and considering PC.  He’s taking his SAT this weekend and has decided to join a college team for the second semester of THIS season, since he’s completed his high school academic requirements. 


  • Rumor has it he then hopes to venture onto the NBA Draft after only one semester in college.  What school, or program, would admit someone for only one term, unless they know he’s Michael Jordan?  And why would Akok waste his time?  He’ll never learn where the campus library is, for sure.


  • Home-and-home this weekend for the 10th ranked Hockey Friars, playing at UNH Saturday night.  PC took a loss and a tie at #7 Denver last weekend, despite 80 (80!) shot attempts in a 4-4 draw.


  • The 9th ranked women’s team has a home-and-home with UConn this weekend, hosting Saturday afternoon.  PC’s Maureen Murphy leads the team and is 5th nationally in points per game (1.71) and was invited this week to attend the USA National Women’s Team tryout camp in Michigan.


  • They’re in the money.  Did you notice what the Red Sox World Series share payouts were?  Nearly $417K per full share, which is nothing to sneeze at.  Neither is the fact the team issued 66 full shares, when there were only 44 players used. 


  • Craig Kimbrel wants a six-year deal?  Buh bye.  My heart, soul and head can’t wrap around that. 


  • Noticed this week where two RI kids were named captains of the UConn baseball team, annually an NCAA Tournament contender.  Portsmouth’s John Toppa was the only Husky to start all 60 games played last season, and Wakefield’s Mason Feole was selected to pitch for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.


  • Was the game against the J-E-T-S as poor as it appeared?  As in no one cared?  The Patriots lack of attention to detail was surprising.  The Jets lack of attention to, well, everything…was not.


  • Sony Michel is having the last laugh over those who thought his talents were rather, um, unspectacular earlier this season.  It’s also showing how much you should trust – or listen to – people who don’t go to the games, or talk to the players, or can’t tell a running back apart from a midfielder.


  • Sports talk radio = s*it-stirring.  There, I said it.  Secret’s out.  Still alive.  Resume your lives.


  • They may be ok for now, but we’re watching the last remnants of what TB12 and Gronk have been, and meant, to the Patriots.  Enjoy the rest of this season, if you can.  You may not see anything close to it, or to them, again for a while.


  • To borrow a phrase, the defense is what it is.  They can apply pressure, but they can’t contain the pressure put on them by a good offense.  They’re better in the red zone if only because they can’t cover (well) between the 20’s.  Still, they’re a ballhawk away from being decent by today’s standards.


  • Tweet of the Week, from @jeffphowe: “Strange stat - in 2018, the Patriots are 8-0 when Stephon Gilmore doesn’t allow a TD, and they’re 0-3 when he does allow a TD. In 2 seasons, Pats are 1-5 when Gilmore allows a TD; 22-2 when he doesn’t.”


  • The Vikings this week present a challenge, sure.  They were my preseason pick to win the NFC.  Also had this game as the first of a potential 3-game losing streak for New England.  If that happens, the fallout will be fierce.  And loud.


  • And it will be felt for months to come.  Maybe even years.


  • My buddy “Big E” sez he had a debate with a drinking buddy recently over jet fuel.  Yes, jet fuel.  His drinking buddy is an airplane mechanic and swears jet fuel is consumable and can give you a buzz.  So they tried it, got smashed and apparently had a good time.


  • The next morning, Big E’s mechanic friend called him. “Hey, how do you feel?”  Big E told him “great!  Just great!”  Then the mechanic asked, “but did you pass gas yet?”  E laughed and said, “no, not yet.  Why?”  The mechanic replied.  “Well, don’t. ‘Cuz I’m in Phoenix.”


  • I’m getting a little weary of all these recalls.  Romaine lettuce?  What about all these health experts who say they want us healthy?  Eat salad, they say.  It’s healthy, they say.  You know what never gets recalled?  Cake.  Eat more cake, I say.


  • ICYMI, this week was American Sandwiches Week.  Or something like that.  As such, I have re-engaged in a time-honored debate.  One in which I have opined, often passionately, on several occasions in recent years.  And my take is this – a hot dog is a sandwich, by the literal definition of the word ‘sandwich’ – meat (or other substance) + bread = sandwich.


  • However, in no way, shape or form do I believe that a hot dog should be called a sandwich. 


  • I am no ‘seamist.’  That’s a crazy person who believes a sandwich must be open on all sides of the bread in order to be a sandwich.  A hot dog is a delicacy (my word, no one else’s) to be savored by itself – perhaps with an adult beverage, or even with a coffee milk – within the confines of a soft, tender (often-times steamed) and delectable bun. 


  • And while ballpark hotdogs (like Fenway Franks) are never a bad idea, the only way to go – as I currently see it – is with a Rhode Island Coney Island System hot dog…complete with sauce, mustard, onions and celery salt.  Yeah, three all-the-way, please.


  • So, a hot dog is a sandwich.  Sort of.  Just don’t call it that. 


  • Ryan in Rhode Island (@carnesy29) tweeted this week on the Friars’ 5-2 start: “Has the expectations for this years’ team changed?”


  • Ryan – it depends on what your expectations were to begin with.  If you thought PC to be an immediate Big East contender, you may have jumped the gun a bit.  If you thought PC would contend for another NCAA berth, I’d preach patience – because that can certainly still happen.  But if you thought the Friar freshmen – who came in with a lot of street cred and publicity – would be like Duke’s freshmen?  I’d ask you to check into the nearest sanitarium.  This ain’t Duke, exactly, in several ways.  But it’s a pretty good place to be.


  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, ...


Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Southern New England Sports Saturday!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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