Rhode Island’s House Finance Committee approved a pair of iGaming bills Tuesday afternoon and sent them on to the House floor for consideration. Should the full House pass the bills, Rhode Island would become the first state this year to send legal online gaming legislation to its governor.
The committee voted on an amended version of a House bill, which changed the effective date of the law from Jan. 1, 2024, to March 1, 2024, and also changed the percentage of revenue due to the state to match that of retail casinos. According to attorney Robert Carr, who fielded questions on the bills, in-person registration for mobile accounts would be required.
The bills, sponsored in the Senate by President Dominick Ruggerio and in the House by Rep. Gregory Costantino, mirror each other and would allow for statewide online casino, including online slots and table games. The legislation won overwhelming Senate approval last week.
The Rhode Island General Assembly is set to adjourn June 30, meaning the full House has just over two weeks to consider the bills. The House next meets Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Bally’s would extend monopoly
Bally’s has exclusivity operating casinos and retail sports betting in Rhode Island, and the bills would extend that to iGaming through a company partnership with the state lottery.
The legislation would entitle the Bally’s Twin River and Tiverton casinos to iCasino platforms. They each would be required to contribute up to $200,000 per year for compulsive and problem gambling programs, and up to $50,000 each for addiction prevention. The bills would set the minimum online casino age at 21, as compared to 18 for sports betting.
State funds from online casino would be directed to the lottery fund and then the state’s general fund. The state would receive 61% of revenue from online slots and 15.5% from online table games. The balance of the revenue would be split among Bally’s, its gaming vendor IGT, and the towns of Lincoln and Tiverton, which host brick-and-mortar casinos.
Rhode Island was the sixth state to legalize sports betting after the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned in May 2018. Lawmakers there legalized retail and digital wagering in June 2018, though online sports wagering didn’t go live until Sept. 4, 2019.
Should it enact the legislation, Rhode Island would be the seventh state overall to have legalized full online casino games. Nevada allows poker online, but not slots or table games such as blackjack and roulette.