Rhode Island Senate Passes Bill for Online Slots and Table Games, Heads to House Vote

profile image of marcomarin
The picture shows rows of gaming machines at a casino, illuminated by colorful lights. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK (Photo by GLYN KIRK / AFP).

Senate Bill 948, which would license and regulate online slots and table games, has made it through the Senate and will be on the docket for a House vote later this session.

If the bill is successfully passed and becomes law, it would likely have significant implications for the state’s online gambling industry. It could lead to the introduction of online casinos in Rhode Island, offering a convenient and accessible platform for residents and visitors to enjoy casino games from their own homes

Slots of Digital Fun in the Ocean State

Senator Dominick J. Ruggiero (D-North Providence) saw his Senate Bill 948 overwhelmingly approved, 30-4, by his colleagues in the upper chamber. The online gambling bill will now advance to the House where it will be coupled with a similar bill proposed by Rep. Gregory J. Constantino (D-Lincoln).

Senator Ruggiero stated, “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.”

The bill would tax online table games at a 15.5% rate while digital slots would be levied at 61%. Unlike the minimum age of 18 to bet sports online in most Rhode Island jurisdictions, online table games will require the customer to be at least 21 to play.

The Rhode Island Lottery would remain the state’s official regulator and virtual gaming would be serviced by the same IGT platform that powers the state’s two land-based casinos. A live dealer would be required to be present per the amendments stipulated in the bill and there would be seven types of table games including blackjack, Pai Gow, roulette, Big Six, craps, baccarat, and poker.

Bally’s the Big Winner

Twin River and Twin River-Tiverton are the two brick-and-mortar casinos in the state, both of which are owned by Rhode Island-based Bally’s. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bally’s would be the gaming company tapped to provide the state’s only digital gambling platform.

Bally’s contended earlier that iGaming would be beneficial to all parties concerned when they issued the following statement, “The proposed legislation would allow the RI Division of Lotteries to authorize online slots and table games by Bally’s properties in Rhode Island including Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel,” with the state receiving a slice of the revenue.

“We intend to model this after the legislation used to establish online sports betting in Rhode Island, effectively giving the State complete regulatory control and the ability to ensure the integrity of the program, while maximizing revenue for the State,” Elizabeth Suever, Vice President of Government Relations for Bally’s Corporation, said.

A statement issued by the General Assembly’s own publicity office says: “A recent study commissioned by Bally’s Corporation estimates that the state could generate an additional $93.3 million of gross gaming revenue in its first year, and as much as $130.6 million in its fifth year of operation, or a potential $210 million in gaming taxes for the state over a five-year period.

“They anticipate little to no switching of play from in-person at retail casinos to online gaming.” If the legislation does pass, the law would go into effect on January 1st, 2024.