Sports Betting Rhode Island
Rhode Island does not sound alarms when it comes to sports betting. However, after the Supreme Court deemed the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional in May 2018, the Rhode Island state stands tall as one of the states that’s legalized sports betting. Rhode Island is the 8th state to legalize, license and regulate sports betting in the country.
The legalization of sports betting in Rhode Island represented the state’s move to expand its gaming options. The legalization move was initiated by the passing of a budget in 2018. The budget was signed to authorize sports betting in both of the state’s Twin River casinos by Governor Gina Raimondo.
However, online sports betting Rhode Island is not legal yet even with lawmakers indicating their interest to legalize online sports betting once the land-based casinos get around running the sportsbooks efficiently.
Online Sports Betting in Rhode Island
The state is yet to legalize online sports betting, as indicated above. However, you can still bet on online daily fantasy sports DFS, greyhound and horse racing legally. Specific sites are offering online betting facilities legally.
It should also be noted that the legalization of online sports betting might or might not call for voter approval/ disapproval through a public referendum. Even though the 2012 referendum clearly approved the expansion of gambling activities offered at a casino, the vote precluded online sports betting. To this end, some of the state legislators have indicated their intention to craft (carefully), legislation that would legalize online sports betting, without having to put voters through another referendum. The state senator Dominick Ruggerio and Nicholas Mattiello, the state senate representative, have both stated their intention to pursue the legislation that would legalize online sports betting in the course of 2019.
The other reason for the push towards the legalization of sports betting results from the fact that online fantasy sports (DFS) is legal in Rhode Island and the DFS operator Draftkings is pushing for the legalization of sports betting.
So, while online sports betting still hangs on the balance, it appears that there are several powerful voices in support of online sports betting. In the meantime, a bill to legalize sports betting is expected to be introduced by the Senate President before the end of January 2019.
Sports Betting on Rhode Island
Even though online sports betting in Rhode Island is illegal, things changed swiftly in 2018 after the Supreme Court’s Ruling. But, that is not the entire truth.
Why? Well before the 2018 ruling, the residents of Rhode Island voted twice, passing a law legalizing casinos gambling in the state. The votes were cast in 2012 and 2016. The result of the voting is the two-class III casinos where sports betting was not only approved but also constructed. After the Supreme Court ruling legislation legalizing sports betting was passed.
Following the legalization of sports betting in the state, there exist two fully-functioning sportsbooks: The Twin River Casino based in Lincoln and the Twin River Tiverton Casinos Sportsbook based in Tiverton.
Twin River Casino Lincoln Sportsbook
The Twin River Casino Lincoln accepted its first wagers on sports in November 2018. Even though you cannot place your wagers online, the sportsbook’s website is up and running. The Twin River Casino takes pride in being the only sportsbooks that accepts sports wagers in New England. You might also like the fact that the sportsbook lets you place wagers on the college team and pro teams. You might also like that the casino boasts odds boards, it has more than 100 large-screen TVs and super comfortable seating. At Twin River Casino, you will enjoy the widest range of sports betting options that cover all the sporting events worldwide.
The sportsbook is under the management of the William Hill. William Hill is a company that is very well-versed with accepting wagers on sports, and it manages several sportsbooks out of Rhode Island.
Twin River Tiverton Casino Sportsbook
Soon after the launch of the Twin River Lincoln Casino Sportsbook, the Twin River Tiverton Casino Sportsbook was launched in December 2018. We recommend reading the betting rules highlighted on their website before you place your wager, especially their sport-specific wagering rules.
The two casinos have similar operating hours:
Mondays and Thursday’s they are open from 10 am to 1 am, Tuesdays and Wednesdays they are open from 10 am to 2am while remaining open from 8 am to 2 am and 1 am, Saturdays and Sundays respectively.
Sports Betting – Legalization Process
In 2018, the Rhode Island Governor Gin Raimondo was among the lawmakers who initiated the process of making sports betting legal. The lawmakers did this in their 2019 budget created in 2018. The budget included the surprise $23.5 million to be generated in tax revenue which was to be collected from sports betting. The inclusion of this item in the tax revenue budget did raise eyebrows because sports betting was not legal in the state, at the time.
The actions of the governor were guided by the fact that the Senate President, Dominick Ruggerio was at the same time preparing a piece of legislation proposing the authorization of the state-run sports wagering at the Tiverton and the Twin River casinos. This bill was Senate Bill 2045. Note that the governor and the senate president were banking on the passing of the legislation, only if a court order or federal legislation would ban the law that prohibited the state of Rhode Island from legalizing, licensing, and regulation sports betting.
Note, however, that the Senate bill did not have any details of sports betting other than the fact that it named the two casinos proposed to offer sports betting, and the fact that the state would prohibit betting on Rhode Island’s college teams. The Division of Lotteries would be responsible for regulations and even oversight on sports betting.
Also important to mention is the fact that Rhode Island’s constitution requires that the voters approve of gambling expansion activities. The Senate president went around this fact by explaining that the voters had approved sports betting in the 2012 vote/ referendum. The referendum asked voters whether or not the Twin Rivers’ Lincoln and Tiverton casinos should be given the license to offer gambling services and class III gaming activities like sports betting. The voters had approved these measures meaning the lawmakers could pass the legislation required to make sports betting legal.
It turns out that the new legislation wasn’t necessary to legalize sports betting thanks to the fact that the state’s legislature approved the 2019 fiscal budget (even though the budget was hyper-inflated for sports betting revenue expected from two locations/ casinos).
Currently, sports betting is only limited to the two sportsbooks above and only accessible to customers placing their wagers within either casino.
The Regulation of Sports Betting in Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Lottery oversees and regulates the sports betting industry within Rhode Island.
Its regulatory role includes the collection of taxes, or rather, ensuring that the sportsbooks remit their taxes appropriates. From the total revenue collected, the state gets 51 percent, IGT receives 32 percent, and the casino takes the remaining 17 percent.
Note that despite the projected $23.5 million expected from sports betting, it is projected that the state only realized $11 million by the end of 2018.
Mobile Sports Betting
Online sports betting is illegal in the state. However, the interested parties could place their wagers using mobile apps, within either of the Twin River Casino properties.
Online Fantasy Sports (DFS) Betting in Rhode Island
While the state has not passed any laws to address fantasy sports betting, legislators have expressed their intention to legalize DFS. In 2016, the Attorney General Peter Kilmartin looked at the sports betting issue to determine its legality and reported that in his opinion, DFS was legal. However, he encouraged lawmakers to come up with the right legislation to ensure the regulation and even the taxation of the industry.
Unfortunately, the Attorney General’s decision was somewhat overruled by the Rhode Island Lottery whose opinion differed from the Attorney General’s. According to the commission, DFS contests did meet the terms of the state’s definition of gambling even though DFS was regarded as a game of skill. The commission further claimed that DFS was not only a form of illegal gambling, but that attempts by the lawmakers to regulate the industry could violate the constitution. Being a contradiction of the Attorney General’s opinion, the lawmakers backed off from trying to pass legislation in daily fantasy sports.
With these contradicting opinions and the fact that the lawmakers stopped bothering with the DFS legislation, there haven’t been any other legislation addressing the matter.
However, the DFS sites continue their operations within the state, thanks to the initial opinion of the Attorney General. Unless another AG takes office, this status quo will most likely continue. Until such a time, you can participate in DFS by entering contests in FanDuel or DraftKings; the two licensed DFS operators in Rhode Island.
Online Gambling in Rhode Island
The gambling laws in Rhode Island prohibit most forms of gambling, as well as poker unless the gambling activities take place in race tracks, the licensed land-based casinos, or in charitable organizations.
It is also clear that most of the restrictions on gambling target operators rather than the players. And, only one law is applicable to the players – that persons frequenting gambling houses/ casinos and not on official duty or the property owners could be imprisoned for a maximum of 30 days. Unfortunately, this provision is extremely ambiguous.
On the part of the operators, the casinos in Rhode Island face no prohibitions on the social casinos. The Twin River Casinos own their social casino sites where interested players get to compete for credits rather than money or credits with monetary value. The use of the social casino is seen as Twin River’s way of familiarizing its offerings to the public. On the website, players can participate in slots, poker, and table games, for free.
Rhode Island Casino Industry
The state of Rhode Island first moved towards the legalization of gambling back in 1934 when voters approved the addition of the pari-mutuel style of betting on the horse races.
Consequently, two racetracks, Lincoln Downs and Narragansett Park opened to serve the horse racing wagering needs of the residents. These race tracks lasted until 1970 when they both closed down. But, the residents of Rhode Island were not without horse racing for too long with the introduction of the Rhode Island State Lottery in 1973.
There were several other referendums in the Ocean State, bringing forth bingo and pull-tab lottery games to the state. Off-track betting in limited form showed up in Lincoln Greyhound and Newport Jai Alai later on.
In 2012 and with voters’ approval of full-scale table games, the first two casinos were established in the Ocean State. These casinos are the Twin River Casino and the Newport Casino. The latter was Twin River Casino’s rival, and Twin River bought it off in 2015, becoming the lone casino operator in the entire state.
The Twin River Casino is the larger of the two, as it sits on a property that hosts at least 4,200 slot machines and more than 100 table games. It’s located at the old location of the Lincoln Downs race racks.
Then, thanks to the second referendum of 2016, the Newport Grand which was moving its operations from Newport was established by Twin River as a new facility which was named the Twin River Tiverton Casino & Hotel that is based in Tiverton.
The minimum gambling age in the state is 18 years.
Online sports betting Rhode Island remains elusive, and we don’t really know when the online activity will be legalized. However, lawmakers in the Ocean State seem to be making moves to ensure that legislation legalizing online sports betting and other forms of online gambling are enacted. All any Rhode Island resident can do now is to sit tight and hope for some changes.