Online Gambling in Rhode Island


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Daily Fantasy Sports in Rhode Island
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Rhode Island daily fantasy games are legal. Top DFS sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel operate in the state legally, meaning players can enjoy these and offerings from other daily fantasy purveyors.

Real-money DFS games in Rhode Island were legalized without any action from lawmakers. The attorney general’s office ruled in 2016 these games were in compliance with existing state law.

DFS operating hasn’t always been as straightforward. Multiple states took proactive action to legalize these games, but others have never taken an action one way or another. By declaring DFS compliant with state law back in 2016, daily fantasy players in Rhode Island were among the first to be able to partake in the games in a jurisdiction with a clear ruling on the legality of the games.

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Online Sports Betting in Rhode Island
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Rhode Island online sports betting is legal and the sole regulated real-money site is now operational. State officials are still rolling out the new online sports betting option, so follow for the official launch date and all other key details.

The Rhode Island lottery oversees mobile sports betting. While most other states permit multiple operating sites, or “skins,” Rhode Island only has one online offering. The new mobile betting site operates with technology from IGT, a leading gaming purveyor, as well as William Hill, one of the largest sportsbook companies in the nation.

Rhode Island sports betting registration requires players to sign up in-person at one of the state’s two casinos. Once registered, eligible bettors can wager via a mobile device from anywhere within state lines.

Sports betting in Rhode Island began last year at the state’s two casinos. Both the Twin River Casino Hotel in Lincoln as well as the Tiverton Casino Hotel operate sportsbooks in their facilities. Bettors can wager on popular area teams such as the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics – or hundreds of other professional teams. Bettors can also wager on their favorite college programs, with the exception of in-state teams such as the University of Rhode Island.

The Ocean State was one of the first in the country to legalize sports betting, but revenues have largely disappointed because there have been only two betting locations in the state. State officials and gaming industry representatives are excited for the new opportunities with the more recent launch of mobile wagering.

Online Casino Gambling in Rhode Island
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Rhode Island online casino gambling is not legal. There are no regulated real-money online casino sites in Rhode Island, a prohibition that will likely remain for the foreseeable future.

Elected officials have been more open to brick-and-mortar casinos, championing a voter-backed public referendum to allow table gaming expansions at Twin River in 2012 and permitting a second casino opening a few years later with Tiverton Casino Hotel. The new facility helped replace the Newport Grand Slots and Casino, which closed in 2018.

Rhode Island casinos were supported partially as a means to compete with Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun, two massive gaming centers opened in the 1990s that sparked casino developments in New England and across the country. Now Rhode Island also faces increasing competition from MGM Springfield in western Massachusetts and, more significantly, Encore Boston Harbor. These new facilities are taking players away from Rhode Island – and keeping out-of-state players from crossing state lines, hurting revenues for both Twin River and Tiverton.

Just as out-of-state casinos forced Rhode Island to bolster its gaming offerings several decades ago, the increasing competition may force the state to expand its options. Real-money online casinos would be a logical next option, but officials have so far resisted any significant progress.

Online Poker in Rhode Island
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Rhode Island online poker remains illegal. No legal real-money poker sites can operate in the state and there is little momentum for regulated offerings in the minds of state lawmakers.

Rhode Island has not seriously considered real-money online poker in the past few years despite proactive steps in other states and a warming stance to gaming overall in the past two decades. Without a change from lawmakers, online poker players will have to travel to New Jersey or Pennsylvania to play legal poker for money via the internet.

Poker players in Rhode Island can enjoy the games in person at either of the state’s two casinos. These will remain the only options for poker without any significant legislation to permit mobile offerings.

As the state’s casino offerings and as slots and table games continue to struggle with new venues in neighboring states, Rhode Island poker will also take a hit. Online poker, which isn’t available in any New England state, would be one option to attract new players and compensate for the revenue crossing state lines.

Lawmakers permitted online and mobile sports betting after initial revenues from the state in-person only market fell short of expectations. With overall gaming dollars similarly threatened, legislators may be more amenable to new venues such as internet poker, but for now it seems that option is far from a reality.

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Gambling in Rhode Island

Rhode Island gambling incorporates many major gaming options common in other states. It remains to be seen if the state will push for new offerings or remain content to follow in others’ footsteps.

Like many other colonies, Rhode Island used lotteries to help fund its government in the 1700s. And like nearly every other state, Rhode Island’s gaming options were effectively eliminated due to religious and moral movements in the 1800s.

And, like much of the rest of the country, Rhode Island began to thaw its gaming oppositions in the 1900s.

The Ocean State legalized pari-mutuel horse race betting in the 20th century, one of the few forms of gambling socially acceptable on a wide scale during that time. It later followed along with a group of Northeastern states that legalized the modern lottery in the latter half of the 1900s. When horse racing revenues declined and casinos began to emerge around that same time, Rhode Island also approved casino gaming at the turn of the 21st century.

After a long time catching up with new gaming forms, Rhode Island was one of the most aggressive adopters of sports betting. Approved a few weeks after the Supreme Court struck down the federal sports betting ban in May 2018, Rhode Island was just the eighth state to take a legal wager on a sporting event. It approved online wagering options in 2019 and may become just the seventh state to take a legal bet through the internet.

The future of Rhode Island gambling is at a crossroads. Will the state embrace the next frontier of gambling, allowing online slots, poker and casino games? Or will it repeat history and follow the lead of other states? That future remains largely undefined, but Rhode Island officials are keenly aware of the rapidly changing industry dynamics across the country and, more importantly, across New England.

Timeline of Gambling Legislation in Rhode Island

1 of 12

Lawmakers approve online sports betting via the state lottery. The first mobile sports bet is expected sometime before the end of the year.

2 of 12

In-person sports betting is approved as part of the state’s budget process. The first bets at Rhode Island’s two casinos come in November of that year.

3 of 12

The state’s attorney general’s office rules daily fantasy games are legal under existing state statute.

4 of 12

Voters approve transforming a former race track into a full-scale casino.

5 of 12

A tribal casino proposed by the Narragansett Tribe is rejected by state officials.

6 of 12

Voters reject authorization for full-scale casinos.

7 of 12

Video lottery terminals approved by the general assembly.

8 of 12

Rhode Island’s lottery options expand after it joins a multi-state compact to permit PowerBall and Mega Millions.

9 of 12

Charitable gaming offerings are legalized.

10 of 12

Lawmakers approve a state lottery.

11 of 12

Betting on horse and greyhound races is legalized.

12 of 12

A century after gambling helped fund its government, Rhode Island outlaws gaming in all forms.

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