While Rhode Island doesn’t have that large a population (and really isn’t that large a state either) being that size but surrounded by big decision makers allows the state to be very nimble when it comes to making laws. This can be seen in the way it has handled some gambling laws recently. This page will cover the current state of gambling in Rhode Island so you are as informed as can be on this topic.
Sports Betting in Rhode Island
Rhode Island was one of the states that decided to make an early move towards sports betting legislation when PASPA was repealed in 2018. The state had opened two casinos in the 2010s, each given the chance to be ready for potential sports betting in the state. Seemingly out of nowhere, in January of 2018, a bill appeared that would give the Rhode Island Lottery the chance to open sportsbooks at these two properties. Upon the repeal of PASPA, the Rhode Island government held a hearing to discuss the pros and cons of adding regulated sportsbooks to the gambling landscape. After a short debate, the bill that was introduced months before the market opened was passed, giving Rhode Islanders a sense of excitement that they soon would be able to be on their favorite teams.
As mentioned, the Lottery was selected to be the operator of all regulated sportsbooks in Rhode Island, so it isn’t much of a stretch to find out that lottery giant IGT was chosen to provide the product to gamblers in the state. In fact, givent he RFP that was issued by the state, there really was no point in some of the other large operators in the state to try to bid on the business.
Despite the sports betting bill being passed into law on June 22, there wasn’t a legal sports bet taken in the state until November 26th. Since then, Rhode Island residents have been able to place wagers across all the main professional and college sports.
Online Sports Betting
One major issue with the sports betting law passed in Rhode Island is that initially it did not include any online or mobile betting. As one can imagine, these two channels make up a significant amount of the handle in other regulated states. While this was meant to be a conservative approach that forced players to have contact with a physical location, the resulting low numbers of handle and NGR force the government’s hand.
It wouldn’t be until September 2019 that mobile sports betting became available in Rhode Island, and event hat came with some controversy. There was a lawsuit filed that claimed that adding mobile betting required another vote and couldn’t just be added to the current bill. Regardless, now players can bet from their computers and mobile devices. The only catch is that while the app can be downloaded, in order to make an initial deposit, account information has to be verified in person at one of the two licensed sportsbooks.
Horse Betting in Rhode Island
Horse racing is popular in Rhode Island, but there are no actual tracks offering live racing for viewers. There was at one point greyhound racing in the state, but this is being frowned upon more and more across the country, and this is why the state finally forced these tracks to stop racing dogs.
The tracks are still in operation from a pari-mutuel betting perspective, as patrons can visit the simulcast theaters and off-track betting facilities to make bets on races from all over the continent. Betting pools are created with tracks and OTBs from all over the country to provide much-needed cash flow to the tracks that are staging these races.
Online Horse Betting
While you can bet on horses and dogs at the local tracks in Rhode Island, those licensees are not allowed to offer online betting to residents of the state. However, all is not lost – there are several companies licensed outside Rhode Island that seem to be able to take action from residents without any repercussion. Companies like Twinspires are very active in the state, and players can simply create an account and bet from the comfort of their own homes, also watching the races directly with these sites via live stream.
Casino Gambling in Rhode Island
Despite being a smaller state, casino gambling is doing great business in Rhode Island. The state gets a lot of traffic from neighboring states to its two casino properties. These are full-scale casinos, featuring hundreds of table games tables as well as thousands of slot machines. It is in the casinos where the new sportsbooks will operate, combining all the gaming in one location. There is no pari-mutuel betting in the casinos currently, but that could also be an option with the launch of sports betting in the properties.
Online Casinos in Rhode Island
Given the speed at which Rhode Island added sports betting to their overall gambling mix, it would not be surprising to see another bill being passed that would allow for online casino games. With two land-based casinos in the state already offering slots and table games, it is a natural extension to provide online versions of the game in a regulated environment to stop players taking their money to offshore sites.
Lottery in Rhode Island
There is nothing shocking about the lottery in Rhode Island. It has existed for many years and generates lots of money for social programs from the proceeds taken in from players. The state participates in the pooled lottery games like Powerball, which gives residents a chance to win the massive jackpots you hear about on the news. There are also lots of other draw games and scratch ticket instant games available to Rhode Island lottery enthusiasts.
Rhode Island Gambling FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Rhode Island?
Sports betting is legal in the state! While the rollout has been very slow and methodical, players are now able to make wagers on their favorite local teams and games from across the globe.
Is online sports betting available?
It took some time to add mobile betting to the available options for Rhode Islanders, but as of September 2019 you are able to make bets from your phones or tablets. However, in order to play from the comfort of your own home, you still have to verify your identity at one of the two live sportsbooks open in the state. Bear that in mind when you decide you want to download the sports betting app.
What is the best online sportsbook for residents of Rhode Island?
From a regulated, licensed perspective, there is only one choice to make. The Rhode Island Lottery oversees the only licensed sportsbook site, so if you want to keep your bets onshore, you will be forced to use this site. It is always possible that the state, in an attempt to generate more tax revenue, will open the licensing up to other vendors, but we aren’t holding our breath.