Big news out of Rhode Island: the Rhode Island Senate passes a measure on Wednesday that legalizes mobile sports betting within the state.
While the bill, S 37, now has to go to the Rhode Island House (as HB 5241), S 37 passed by an absolute landslide of 30-4. Should HB 5241 also pass, then it would be the House bill that would land on the desk of Governor Gina Riamondo.
Rhode Island is expected to pass the bill with relative ease. Only one lawmaker spoke out against the bill in the Senate, a bill that blazed through committee on its way to the senate floor. While the House bill is still in committee for more study, it’s not expected to meet too much resistance on the floor.
So the bill would, obviously, legalize mobile sports betting. It follows as the natural next step to sports betting, which was actually legalized back in June of 2018.
The bill would give a monopoly on online gambling to the Twin River Management Group, which owns the two casinos that are allowed to offer in-person sports betting. This has been the biggest sticking point for Senator Sam Bell, who argued on the floor against handing Twin River a monopoly.
“By passing this law, we would be giving a monopoly to one business, Twin River. This is America. Why don’t we set up a real free market?”
However, given the size of the state, two casinos and one company might be all that Rhode Island would need in the early stages of sports betting. Sports betting has been a hit so far in Rhode Island, so consumers likely won’t be too concerned about having to go through Twin River.
Lottery officials did have to deal with the idea about who the mobile sports betting operator would be. While it hasn’t been decided, it was decided that if Rhode Island decides to use IGT as the operator for sports betting, then mobile sports betting might be in operation in time for football, as they wouldn’t need to jump through as many regulatory hoops.
There are only two casinos that can offer sports betting in Rhode Island: the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, and the Tiverton Casino in Tiverton. The two casinos combined for a little over a million in revenue for the last few days of November and all of December.
Should the bills pass as they are for Rhode Island, those wishing to bet on sports via mobile devices would have to go to Twin River or Tiverton to register initially. The lone Senator against the bill pointed out this might be a drawback, instead of allowing people to register at home.
In terms of profit, the revenue for the Rhode Island casinos is taxed at an insane 51%. So for casinos to have the ability to also have mobile sports betting would be a major boon as it could potentially make up for the revenue lost to taxes.
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