Governor Dan McKee of Rhode Island has officially signed Senate Bill 948 into law, extending Bally's land-based casino monopoly in the state to the realm of online gaming. The bill, which was approved by lawmakers in the House and Senate last week, reached the governor's desk in time for Thursday's deadline.
With the governor's signature, online slots and table games will become available in the state from April 2024. The bill's sponsor and president of the senate, Dominick J Ruggerio, expressed his satisfaction with the move, stating: "This legislation provides an added convenience to Rhode Islanders who would like to play the existing table games offered at Twin River via their mobile devices."
“It helps ensure the continued strength of the state facilities in the competitive regional gaming market, and in so doing protects an important revenue stream that provides funding for vital state programs and investments,” Ruggerio added in a statement.
The plan was amended to mandate live dealers to be in place on the iGaming platform. The law is similar to one passed in New Jersey, where that law requires bets wagered in Atlantic City. A mini-casino, similar to a television studio, will be utilized to simulcast the games to mobile devices.
Under the new law, Bally's will hold the exclusive rights to operate online gaming in Rhode Island. The company's online arm, Gamesys, which operates under various brands including Virgin Casino, Tropicana Casino, and Rainbow Riches Casino, will be the sole operator in the state.
The law imposes a 50% tax on online slot revenue, with the remaining funds divided between Bally's and IGT. Table games, on the other hand, will face a lower tax rate of 18% on revenue. Mobile sports betting in Rhode Island will continue to be limited to individuals aged 21 and older, aligning with the state's existing land-based laws.
The regulation of iGaming in Rhode Island will fall under the purview of the Rhode Island Division of Lottery, which currently oversees the Bally's casinos in the state. Mark Furcolo, the director of the organization, will have the authority to develop "reasonable" rules and regulations for online gaming.
To ensure compliance with state boundaries, geolocation technology will be utilized to verify that players are physically present within Rhode Island. However, the law also allows for out-of-state betting in specific circumstances, provided that the Rhode Island Division of Lottery has entered into a reciprocal agreement with another state regulator.
It is worth noting that Bally's previously assisted in the drafting of the bill that has now become law. The operator has confirmed its involvement in a statement. Through the landmark approval, Rhode Island joins a limited number of states where online gaming is legal, including New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Connecticut.
The online casino segment is often recognized for its ability to generate substantial revenue, surpassing that of sports betting, which is regulated in a larger number of states.