Sports betting is officially legal in Rhode Island. On Friday, Governor Gina Raimondo signed off on a $9.6 billion state budget that includes provisions to legalize and regulate sports betting at the state’s two Twin River casinos.
The potential for legal sports betting in Rhode Island first popped up on the radar back in January when Governor Raimondo included $23.5 million in revenue from sports betting. The budget proposal at the time included a section that would legalize sports betting at the Twin River casino in Lincoln and the soon-to-be-finished casino in Tiverton.
At the time, the sports betting proposal was contingent upon a favorable ruling in the New Jersey Supreme Court case. That decision came down in May, and it was indeed a favorable ruling. The Supreme Court decision killed a federal law known as PASPA that had previously prohibited all states except Nevada from legalizing traditional sports betting.
This cleared the way for states such as Rhode Island to begin the process of legalization. That process moved a major step forward in Rhode Island last week after the Senate approved the budget and sent it to Governor Raimondo for her signature.
Governor Raimondo signed the budget on Friday and her signature officially made sports betting legal in Rhode Island. According to Reuters, sports betting is expected to go live around October 1st.
Under the current plan, Rhode Island will keep 51% of all revenue collected from sports betting. Sports betting technology provider IGT will keep 32% and the casinos will keep 17%. In a press release, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio boasted that the plan “provides Rhode Island with the highest percentage of revenue in the nation for sports wagering.”
Online Sports Betting Not Included, Yet
Online sports betting is not included in the bill, but lawmakers did leave the door open to that possibility. Department of Revenue spokesman Paul Grimaldi told Reuters this regarding online betting:
“We wanted to start small and make sure we have the operational system down pat in the casinos before we explore online or mobile.”
However, casinos will have the ability to explore online wagering to a limited degree in the meantime. The Rhode Island sports betting law does permit “on-premises remote sports wagering,” which likely means allowing customers to place bets via mobile devices while located on casino property.
This is a far cry from actual online sports betting, but it will give casinos the ability to begin setting up and gaining experience with electronic sports betting platforms. If Rhode Island gaming law does change to add online sports betting, it won’t be as big of a jump to move from on-premises remote wagering to state-wide remote wagering.
Implementing online sports betting would require a statewide referendum to gain the approval of voters. Past ballot measures already granted Rhode Island casinos the ability to offer sports betting, but a new referendum will be needed to take it online.