Rhode Island Legalizes Online Gaming

Rhode Island became the first state this year to enact a law authorizing online gaming, after a bill legalizing online slot and table games was signed by Governor Dan McKee (l.).

Rhode Island Legalizes Online Gaming

Rhode Island became the seventh state to legalize online gaming last week, after Governor Dan McKee signed a bill authorizing internet gaming sites tied to the state’s two brick-and-mortar casinos, both owned by Bally’s Corporation.

S948, sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, cleared the Senate easily by a 32-4 vote after the chamber approved amendments cleared by the state House. McKee signed it into law June 22.

Bally’s and IGT have the exclusive right to operate all gaming in Rhode Island under a bill signed into law by McKee in 2021, giving the two companies no-bid control to operate gambling in the state under the Rhode Island Lottery.

That bill obligates the IGT-led partnership to 1,100-plus jobs in Rhode Island in exchange for exclusive control through 2043 of the technology that runs Rhode Island’s state-sponsored gambling, including the electronic and live table-game business at the two Bally’s Twin River casinos. That now extends to online gaming.

Under the new law, online casinos will launch after the effective date of March 1, 2024, with one of the highest tax rates in the business. Bally’s will hand over 61 percent of online slot revenues to the state, splitting the rest with its affiliates. The towns of Lincoln and Riverton will split 1.45 percent of online revenues. Online table games—all live-dealer—will be taxed at 15.5 percent, with the majority of those revenues (83.5 percent) going to Bally’s and its affiliates, with 1 percent divided between Lincoln and Riverton.

Rhode Island was one of the first states to launch sports betting after the 2018 repeal of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Retail sportsbooks launched in late 2018 at the state’s two casinos, followed by a 2019 mobile launch of a lottery/William Hill sportsbook app hosted by Bally’s.

Rhode Island is the first state to clear iGaming legislation in 2023.