Rhode Island has become the latest state to legalize online casino after Governor Daniel McKee signed SB 948 into law.
SB 948 was filed by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggeiro, and its house equivalent, HB 6348A was filed by Rep. Gregory Costantino. The bill provides a new means of accessing existing table game offerings at Bally’s Twin River Casino in Lincoln.
The bill is one of the smallest igaming bills in scope, effectively providing a state monopoly between Twin River Casino, Bally’s and chosen official vendor IGT. The tax rate is set at 61% for online slot gameplay, and 15% on table games. Other rules include: bettors must be over the age of 21 and be located within the barriers of Rhode Island.
Senate President Ruggeiro commented in an official state release:
“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, 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.”
Rep. Constantino added: “The time has come for us to take this step and be competitive with our neighbors.. I’m gratified that we were able to amend the original bill to restrict online table games to users over the age of 21, and that Bally’s has also agreed to provide additional resources to educate young people about problem gaming. “
Ruggeiro concluded: “This is a focused version of iGaming that is ready for passage and implementation. This iGaming legislation is constitutional, is geared to mature users, contains education provisions for problem gamblers, and preserves the revenue allocation percentages as they are currently in place.”
Rhode Island is the only state to have legalized iGaming in 2023 legislature. Although a positive sign for igaming advocates, Rhode Island was likely low on the list of desired states for legalization given the total addressable market. Texas online casino, Florida online gaming or California online sports betting would have been far preferable.
Given Rhode Island effectively operates a Bally/IGT/Rivers monopoly, there’s been little to no excitement in the wider industry. Rhode Island Lottery will be responsible for the regulation as it is across the board. RI was one of the first states to operate sports betting following the repeal of PASPA, although the digital shift didn’t happen until RI online sports betting in 2019.
In 2022, total statewide commercial casino gaming revenue totalled $688.2 million in Rhode Island. Total revenue from electronic gaming devices sat at $508.8 million, with table games accounting for $130.2 million. Lawmakers will be hoping that the online market will bear fruits given the 61% proposed tax on slots.