Last Thursday, lawmakers in the Rhode Island House and Senate voted to approve the state’s igaming bill into law. After this, the bill was sent to Governor McKee’s desk, with today being the deadline for him to sign or veto.
The governor opted to sign the bill with just hours left before time expired. This means that online slots and table games will be live in the state from April 2024.
“This legislation provides an added convenience to Rhode Islanders who would like to play the existing table games offered at Twin River via their mobile devices,” said the bill’s sponsor and president of the senate Dominick J Ruggerio .
“This is a focused version of igaming that is ready for implementation. This igaming legislation is constitutional, is geared to mature users, contains education provisions for problem gamblers and preserves the revenue allocation percentages as they are currently in place.”
The law extends the current Bally’s monopoly over casinos in the state to igaming, meaning that the company’s online arm Gamesys would be the sole operator active in the state. The business operates under a number of brands including Virgin Casino, Tropicana Casino and Rainbow Riches Casino.
The law imposes a 50% tax on online slot revenue with the remainder divided between Bally’s and IGT. Meanwhile table games are to face a lesser 18% revenue tax.
Access to mobile sports betting in Rhode Island is to be limited to those aged 21 years of age and older, in line with the state’s land-based laws.
In February, it was reported that Bally’s helped write the bill that has now become law. The operator has confirmed the news in a statement.
Rhode Island Division of Lottery to regulate igaming
Igaming is to be regulated in the state by the Rhode Island Division of the Lottery, which currently oversees the two Bally’s casinos in the state. The activity will therefore be under the purview of the organisation’s director, Mark Furcolo.
The text of the law empowers the director to develop “reasonable” rules and regulations for igaming in the state.
The law states that geolocation technology will be used to ensure that a player is physically in the state. However, it also outlines certain circumstances when a player is permitted to bet out of state. The law allows this to take place when the RI Division of the Lottery has entered into a reciprocal agreement with another state regulator.
Extension of no-bid contract
In 2021, state legislators voted to approve a law that provided the operator and its IGT gaming supplier a 20-year no-bid contract to run both the land-based casinos in the state: Bally’s Twin Rivers Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel. Under the text, the contract will end in 2043.
Igaming is currently only legal in six states: New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Connecticut. The segment is often considered to bring in more revenue than sports betting, which is regulated in many more states than online casino.