Rhode Island Prepares for Online Sports Betting Approval

Summary: Efforts to legalize online and mobile sports betting are coming to and end as the bill authorizing the option has only one more step before it becomes reality.

Since May of last year, states in the US have been frantically working to start offering sports betting services. A ruling by the Supreme Court allowed states to legalize the option if they so choose. Many states already offer land-based services and online/mobile betting is quickly gaining ground as well. New Jersey was one of the first to authorize both options and now it seems Rhode Island is about to join the online sports betting list.

Rhode Island Online and Mobile Sports Betting

Rhode Island already offer sports betting, having legalized the option in late 2018. However, for land-based operations, the state only offers in-person betting at the Twin River casinos. Efforts have been taking shape for mobile and online wagering in the state with Senate Bill 37 now only needing the signature of Governor Gina Raimondo to become law.

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this week, authorizing online and mobile sports wagering. The bill now only needs to be signed by the Governor and it is expected that she will do so.

As it stands now, the bill would allow the Twin River facility to offer a sports betting website as well as mobile application. Bettors will have to be proved eligible to take part. During the pathway to legalization, the bill did not see any opposition.

In the beginning, the bill was considered in the Senate in early February. After being amended, it was passed a week later. The bill then moved through the House and was passed on Tuesday with an overwhelming vote of 64 to 8.

Even though support is strong, there are lawmakers that are skeptical of the option being made available online.

Representative Blake Filippi has shown skepticism, making a motion during the hearing to add a step that would see the state’s Supreme Court review the constitutionality of the legislation, as to whether or not the online betting activity would be an unlawful extension of gambling in the state.

However, his proposed amendment was not approved with yet another overwhelming vote, this time against the changes.

The legislation will require that players be located in the state of course and also visit a land-based venue to register for online gaming. This seems to be a particular precedence for many states when considering online sports betting. It seems the in person verification is being used to ensure players are of age and legally allowed to take part.

Exclusive Services In The State

Right now in Rhode Island, the lottery is the administrator for the sports betting industry and the Twin River properties are the exclusive license holders. Details as to how online betting will come to fruition are still up in the air.

The Twin River casinos use IGT and William Hill for their sports betting offerings. So, they should work with these companies as well to launch online and mobile services. If the bill is signed into law, it will be interesting to see how the option is applied and offered in the state.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.