In a decisive 30-4 vote, the Rhode Island Senate has successfully passed the bill that seeks to legalize online casinos within the state. The next stage for SB948 is to proceed to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
The Rhode Island Senate has taken a significant step towards legalizing online casinos in the state by passing a bill that would allow residents over the age of 21 to play table games remotely using a computer or mobile app. The bill, known as SB948, was introduced by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and includes provisions that would grant Bally’s the exclusive rights to operate online casinos through its Twin River and Twin River-Tiverton properties, with IGT serving as its vendor.
To address concerns regarding the authenticity of online gameplay, the bill was amended to include a requirement for a live dealer to be present during games, with the action streamed through a simulcast. If the bill becomes law, Rhode Island residents can expect legal online casino games to be available by January 1, 2024. The state lottery would assume the responsibility of regulating the online casino market.
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio expressed his support for the legislation, highlighting the convenience it would provide to Rhode Islanders who wish to play table games offered at Twin River via their mobile devices. He emphasized the importance of maintaining the competitiveness of state facilities in the regional gaming market and safeguarding a crucial revenue stream that supports essential state programs and investments.
Rhode Island has experienced notable success in the sports betting sector, with the April sports betting handle reaching $37.5 million. However, this figure represents an eight-month low, marking a 6.7% decrease from the $40.2 million recorded in the same month of the previous year, and a 9.6% decrease from the $41.5 million wagered in March 2023.
According to the Rhode Island Lottery, online wagers accounted for $27.5 million, while the remaining $10 million was split between the retail sportsbooks at Twin River and Tiverton Casino. Twin River’s handle amounted to $5.8 million, with Tiverton Casino reporting $4.2 million in wagers.
The passage of SB948 reflects the state’s recognition of the growing demand for online gambling options and its commitment to meeting the needs of its residents. By legalizing online casinos, Rhode Island aims to remain competitive in the evolving gambling landscape and capture a portion of the revenue generated by online gaming. The bill now awaits review and deliberation in the House of Representatives, where its fate will be determined.