Gambling Legislation

Rhode Island advances bill to legalize online gaming, including poker

State lawmakers believe they’ve figured out a legal path toward acceptance of the legislation

The Rhode Island Senate approved SB948, a bill sponsored by Senator Ruggeri to legalize online gambling and poker in the state. This has fueled hopes for expansion in 2023, especially since the bill has now been passed to the House for further consideration. There, Representative Constantino has introduced a parallel proposal that seeks to achieve the same objective.

Come January 1, 2024, Rhode Island could see the legalization of online gambling. The new bill has proposed that the state lottery should oversee this newly regulated market. However, lawmakers have to move quickly, as the legislative session ends on June 30. They also have to still overcome opposition.

“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 Ruggerio. “It helps ensure the continued strength of the state facilities in the competitive regional gaming market, and in so doing protects an important revenue stream that provides funding for vital state programs and investments.”

Bally’s is set to be the sole operator for Rhode Island’s online casino market, according to the new bill. It will operate from its Twin River and Twin River-Tiverton venues, with IGT becoming the licensed service provider with access to gaming grants.

The modification made by the committee to SB948 entails a new provision mandating the presence of a live dealer who will be displayed via simulcast for technically placing bets within the casino premises, thus ensuring the law’s constitutionality and preventing elections.

Bally’s live dealers in New Jersey would be used to enable players to wager in Rhode Island using their smartphones. Additionally, the legal age for participating in online table games has been increased from 18 to 21. Furthermore, Bally’s is obligated to fund programs aimed at educating individuals about gambling.

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