Rhode Island Set to Become Seventh State Legalizing Online Casino GamesLast updated: Dec 12, 2023, 2:52AM | Published: Jun 19, 2023, 6:42AM
Rhode Island is on the verge of becoming the seventh state in the US to introduce online casino games with a simple stroke of the pen. The House recently approved the bill to bring iGaming to the state, following the Senate's passage of SB948, an identical bill. The Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill with a 57-11 vote, and now it awaits the decision of Governor Daniel McKee.
Key Details of Rhode Island's Online Casino Legislation
If authorized, Rhode Island's online casino games could launch as early as January 1, 2024, with the state lottery taking responsibility for regulating the market. The bill grants exclusive operating rights to Bally's, which would operate through its Twin River and Twin River-Tiverton properties. Additionally, IGT, the official vendor, would also have access to Rhode Island's gaming initiatives.
To ensure the bill's constitutionality and avoid a referendum, the legislation mandates the presence of a live dealer who would be streamed through a simulcast, effectively placing bets in a physical casino location. This provision aims to provide a sense of authenticity and security.
NEWS: Rhode Island is on the verge of becoming the first state this year to legalize online casino gambling. The iGaming bill has been passed by both houses and transmitted to the Governor for signature. The big winner? Bally’s, which operates the only two RI casinos. pic.twitter.com/ysRlLIQkgl— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) June 17, 2023
Concerns Raised Over Monopoly and Player Protection in Rhode Island's Online Casino Bill
Under the amended bill, online table games would be restricted to individuals aged 21 and above, and Bally's would be required to allocate funds for problem gambling education. However, concerns were raised regarding Bally's potential monopoly on the market and the need for player protection.
Representative Brandon Potter voiced his concerns, stating: "This is by far the most incredibly dangerous piece of legislation that I have seen since I’ve been here. It is completely unvetted, and I see no benefit other than enriching a large corporate partnership at the expense of devastating people all throughout our state, working-class people."
Despite such objections, the bill passed the House without any amendments and now awaits Governor McKee's decision. The governor's stance on gambling remains unknown at this time.
Governor McKee's Decision: The Final Step for Rhode Island's Online Casino Legalization
If Governor McKee signs the bill, it would mark a significant milestone for the online casino industry in the United States, as Rhode Island would become the seventh state to legalize online casino games. Despite its small size and lack of operator competition, this development indicates a clearer path to legalization and provides hope for government affairs offices across the industry.
Rhode Island will join New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Delaware in legalizing US online casinos.
If you or a loved one has questions or needs to talk to a professional about gambling, call 1-800-GAMBLER or visit 1800gambler.net for more information.
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