Last updated: June 1, 2020
Status: All forms of sports betting are currently legal in Rhode Island.
ETA: Full sports betting was made legal in Rhode Island in November 2018.
Despite being one the smaller US states, Rhode Island got the jump on many of its peers in 2018. Seeing an opportunity to boost its coffers with additional tax revenue, sports betting was legalized in November 2018. Indeed, we can assume the sports betting revolution was prompted by a need for additional income thanks to Governor Gina Raimondo./p>
During her 2018 budget speech, she allocated a portion of any sports betting revenue to local amenities. Although the state can’t generate the same amount of income as the likes of Nevada and New Jersey, early estimates suggested Rhode Island sports betting could be worth $11.5 million annually.
Although this was only a projection, the reality is that Rhode Island sportsbooks were first touted in the January 2018 budget speech. With the right people eager to embrace the industry, it was then a waiting game to see when federal regulations would change. In May 2018, the Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional. This paved the way for Rhode Island sports betting to go live.
Although it took slightly longer than its counterparts, Little Rhody joined the big boys in November 2018. Within a month, online sports betting talks began. By March 2019, Rhode Island’s mobile and online sports betting bill was signed into law. As of May 2019, no internet sportsbooks were live. However, there is a legal framework in place that makes online and mobile sports betting possible.
There has been some form of betting and gaming in Rhode Island for the best part of a century. In fact, when you look at the timeline below, you’ll see that things have almost come full circle since the 1940s.
1943– Voters approve a bill that gave racetracks the ability to offer pari-mutuel betting. The same year, Narragansett Park opened its doors.
1947– Lincoln Downs becomes the second racetrack in Rhode Island.
1973– The Rhode Island State Lottery goes live. Newport Jai Alai and Lincoln Greyhound Park subsequently started to offer limited forms of off-track betting, while lottery-style games and bingo sprung up across the state.
1977 and 1978– Narragansett Park closes in 1977, followed by Lincoln Downs a year later. However, instead of completely going away, Lincoln Downs becomes Lincoln Greyhound Park, then Lincoln Park, before it was transformed into the Twin River Casino in 2012.
2012– Full-scale casino gaming was approved in Rhode Island, leading to the rise of Twin River Casino and Newport Grand Casino.
2015– Twin River buys Newport Grand to become the state’s only live gaming operator.
2016– Newport Grand is renamed Twin River Tiverton Casino & Hotel.
2018– Rhode Island sports betting becomes a reality and the state’s two casinos are the first to open sportsbooks.
100%. Thanks to provisions made in the state’s January 2018 budget, a sports betting law was brought to life in November the same year following the demise of PASPA.
The Rhode Island Lottery operates sports betting through the state’s two casinos. This is something of a unique dynamic as the Lottery has full control of the industry and there aren’t currently any provisions for other operators to apply for a license.
To bet on sports in Rhode Island, you must be 21 or older.
At present, there are two legal Rhode Island sportsbooks located inside the following casinos:
The operator of licensed sports betting in Rhode Island is the state lottery. Alongside the Rhode Island Lottery, Twin River is licensed to offer sports betting inside its casinos, while software provider IGT is licensed to provide the necessary sportsbook technology.
As noted, Rhode Island’s two casinos have legal sportsbooks. However, there are provisions in the law that allow for online sports betting.
Not currently, but it is on its way.
Although it’s fallen short of expectations, Rhode Island sports betting revenue has seen customers wager up to $19 million in a single month. However, due to results, there have been months where operators have paid out more than they’ve handled.
Rhode Island sportsbooks pay tax on a revenue sharing basis. The state receives 51% of all sports betting revenue, while software supplier IGT collects 32%. This leaves 17% for the state’s sportsbooks.
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