Mobile Sports Betting in Rhode Island Approved: Awaits Governor Signature

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:

Lawmakers in Rhode Island have approved mobile sports betting within Rhode Island's borders.  The bill awaits the signature of Governor Gina Raimondo.


If signed, those within Rhode Island would be able to place wagers on sporting events via their mobile phones.  The state, with a population of just over one million, currently offers sports betting at two Twin River Casino locations in Lincoln and Tiverton.  Rhode Island is also the only New England state that offers licensed sports betting.

Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell claims gambling expansion requires voter approval, and he’s considering suing.   An amendment introduced by his party failed to pass.

Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello say they want to expand sports betting to generate revenue and make the betting more convenient.

But Democratic Rep. Joe Shekarchi, the House majority leader, claims the bill does not expand gambling.  Instead, he believes the measure simply improves current technology and enhances the gambling experience.

Rhode Island offers limited sports wagering options.  For example, currently individuals are not permitted to bet parlays (two or more sides must win at better payout odds).

The governor has already proposed a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that relies on $30 million from sports betting, including $3 million from mobile gambling.

Rhode Island legalized and launched sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law last year that made most sports gambling illegal.

“I support this type of gaming. I don’t support moving ahead when there are substantial questions about its legality,” said Republican Rep. Blake Filippi, the House minority leader. “I think we should be asking for an advisory opinion from the Rhode Island Supreme Court before we build our budget around it and invest in the technology.”

The House approved the Senate president’s bill to allow online sports wagering, which the Senate passed in February. The House also passed its version of the same bill, introduced by the House speaker. Both passed 64 to 8. Senate spokesman Greg Pare said the Senate would act swiftly to pass the House bill, so both versions could be sent to the governor.

- Gilbert Horowitz,

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