Rhode Island joined the list of states to turn a sports betting bill into law this week. Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the bill, which was approved by fellow Democrats in both chambers of the state’s legislature.
The state’s new legislation allows mobile sports wagering at the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton. Rhode Island’s online sports bettors can legally use the “sports gaming offerings” through the Twin River casinos.
Of course, access to this online gaming portal will only be offered to those within the state boundaries. A technological system will be put in place to track the exact location of anyone legally registered to place an online wager.
And everyone who intends to use this service must set up an account in person at a Twin River casino location.
It remains to be seen when this system will be available to bettors. It typically takes several months for an online gaming structure of this kind to become functional.
Having to sign up in person might be an inconvenience for some. This potential deterrent could push away at least a few bettors, but some state officials say they believe that in-person signups could help improve betting numbers at the physical casinos.
”The new in-person sportsbook that opened in November has been very popular, with lines sometimes stretching out the doors,” State Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio said in an official statement released by the Rhode Island General Assembly. “It is an entertainment option that many Rhode Islanders enjoy, and visitors from outside the state are also flocking to our gaming facilities to place their wagers on sporting events.
”Expanding to mobile gaming would provide a convenient option for those wishing to enjoy this form of entertainment, and open up the economic benefits beyond the walls of Twin River. I can envision a group of friends from out-of-state spending an evening out in a local establishment where they can both watch the game and place a wager.”
As is often the case, potential revenue and future earnings remain at the forefront of legislators’ determination to turn bills of this nature into law. Especially in Rhode Island, which receives 51 percent of all earnings from legal sports gambling, by far the highest tax rate of any state taking legal sports bets.
“This revenue, along with the revenue we anticipate from an expansion to mobile gaming is a tremendous benefit to the state,” Rhode Island Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello said. “It’s an added benefit that we can capture revenue that would have otherwise gone to an illegal market.
“When you consider that up to 97 percent of sports wagering is done illegally, it makes good sense for the state to increase its revenue by providing an entertainment that can be done safely and legally.”
Last year, Rhode Island became the eighth state to offer legalized sports betting after the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Since that law was overturned, seven states joined Nevada in offering legal sports wagering.