Rhode Island Governor Signs iGaming Bill Into Law

Yesterday, June 22nd, Gov. Dan McKee officially signed into law Senate Bill 948, which expands Bally’s land-based casino monopoly into iGaming. However, the governor decided to sign the legislation just hours before time ran out.

Approval of the House of Representatives and the Senate:

A vote was held last Thursday where members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and the Senate officially voted to validate the state’s iGaming legislation into law, then sent it to the governor’s desk for him to decide whether to sign or veto, until June 23rd. However, since he decided to sign it, he has officially given permission for online slots and table games to go live from April 2024, meaning that a live dealer will be placed for each game.

Commenting on the bill, bill sponsor and Senate president Dominick J Ruggerio, said: “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. This is a focused version of igaming that is ready for implementation. This igaming legislation is constitutional, is geared to mature users, contains education provisions for problem gamblers and preserves the revenue allocation percentages as they are currently in place.”

Expanding the current Bally’s monopoly:

The bill, now law, expands Bally’s current casino monopoly in the state to iGaming, which means the company’s online subsidiary Gamesys would be the only active operator in the state. In addition, the subsidiary operates under a number of brands involving Virgin Casino, Tropicana Casino and Rainbow Riches Casino.

Also, during February, it was announced that Bally’s helped write said legislation which has now become law, leading to the company confirming the news in a statement.

According to the new law, a 50% tax was imposed on the income from online slots, and the rest was split between Bally’s and International Game Technology (IGT), since both are the providers of the new online gambling site and both are the back-end of Sportsbook Rhode Island, which is a sports wagering product of the Rhode Island Lottery. In the meantime, the table games are subject to a lower income tax of 18%. However, all profit sharing percentages stay the same as the existing revenue ratios. In light of the aforementioned fact that IGT and Bally’s are the providers of the latest online gambling site, in 2021, Rhode Island lawmakers voted to validate a bill that gave the operator and its IGT gaming provider a 20-year no-bid agreement to manage both land-based casinos in the state Bally’s Twin Rivers Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel. According to the bill, the agreement ends in 2043.

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Additionally, online gaming will be regulated by the Rhode Island Division of the Lottery, which currently supervises the two aforementioned Bally’s casinos. The activity will therefore be under the responsibility of the director of the organization, Mark Furcolo. The new law authorizes the director to develop “reasonable rules and regulations for igaming in the state.”

Use of geolocation technology:

However, the new law allows locals over the age of 21 to access existing tabletop games remotely, meaning via a computer or mobile app. But, players will have to be located in Rhode Island if they want to play. Also, the geolocation technology will be used to make sure that the player is physically in the state. However, it also list special circumstances when a player is allowed to bet out of Rhode Island. This is only allowed to happen after the RI Division of the Lottery has entered into a reciprocal agreement with another state regulator.

Furthermore, iGaming has been legalized so far in only six states such as New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Connecticut. It is often thought to bring in more income than sports wagering, which is reg 291bet ulated in many more states than online casino.