CasinosJungle > News > Rhode Island iGaming Moves One Step Closer

Rhode Island iGaming Moves One Step Closer

Penny June 15, 2023

Online gambling has become a big topic for state legislators in the United States in the last five years. Several states are seemingly in a constant process of proposing, debating, and approving or disapproving bills. One of those is Rhode Island. Legislators in the state are looking to bring legal online gambling to the East Coast. It now looks like it could happen sooner rather than later as a bill has received local senate approval. It will now go before the House, where it will be decided if those in the state will be able to access online casino games.

Rhode Island Gambling

Casino operator Bally’s pushed for the legislation and will look to take advantage of live online casino gaming. President of the Senate Dominick Ruggio sponsored the bill, giving real legitimacy to the proposals. Now that it will go in front of the House of Representatives, hopes are high that 2024 could see legal online casino gaming in Rhode Island. This is despite some uncertainty surrounding what the industry could mean financially to the state. Figures provided by Bally’s have been contested but that hasn’t dampened the excitement around the potential plans.


What the Plans Will Entail

As part of the plans, Bally’s Twin River casino will act as the host of the games that players will be able to access online. All games will have a live dealer and will be simulcast for players over the age of 21 based within state lines. This will mean that table games like roulette and blackjack will be accessible to those eligible players. The reason for the bill including the need for a live dealer is that the state lottery was uncomfortable with the original proposals. They believed that iGaming was unconstitutional given that online gambling was not explicitly mentioned in existing legislation referendums. To circumvent those concerns, the bill’s authors made amendments that would see all gaming simulcast, rather than offered through digital means like random number generators.


Another area of concern for those associated with the bill is the potential revenue that it will generate for the state. Bally’s had proposed that the bill would be worth around $210 million to the local government. However, a new prediction by Christiansen Capital Advisors, LLC based on 12 months of financial information from other states with legal online gambling has cast doubt on the previous figure. The new number is closer to $160 million and represents a near 25% reduction. As such, some are looking at the bill going to the House as being under threat. Given that there is such a stark difference between the two figures, legislators may look and see a wildly unpredictable market. However, proponents of the bill will point to the fact that both figures represent healthy income for Rhode Island. Amendments made to the bill appear to have rectified these issues, though. Taxes for slots have been raised from 50% to 61% and for table games from 15.5% to 18%. This would allow the state to gather more funds from the lower projections.

New iGaming States Slow to Emerge

If this bill manages to gain the approval of the House, it’s likely we will see an increased interest in legislation for other states. Up to four states are currently toying with the idea of introducing full live iGaming. Should one domino fall in the form of Rhode Island receiving approval, it’s extremely likely that other states could experience a swing in momentum. Nearby neighbor New York will be particularly interested in how this bill fares. A number of bills have been put forward for the state, but it has yet to agree on legal gaming. Now, however, it appears to be riding the crest of a casino wave. Authorities in the state are looking to grant a number of licenses to land-based venues and this could help push online gaming to the fore.

Now that the senate has given its opinion on the bill, confidence is high that the state will finally receive full approval for online gaming. The fact that the authors have been open to making amendments that appease opponents of the bill is also encouraging. It reflects a flexibility that allows legislators to clear unforeseen hurdles. That helps futureproof the bill and keep it ahead of the curve, rather than constantly playing catch up in an attempt to stay relevant. As such, that gives it a very good chance of becoming a part of state law in the very near future.

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