Rhode Island might be the smallest of the states within the US, but it has had a turbulent history – gambling history included. The legalization of gambling in Rhode Island began in 1934 when Narragansett Park and Lincoln Downs racetracks were opened and legalized. Over the years, voters approved broad expansions of legal gambling to include the state lottery, the VLT machines, full-scale table gaming, sports betting, and even Fantasy Leagues.
However, online gambling seems to have been exorcised by the authorities, as online casinos are not legal per se. Still, things are not black and white in the world of online gambling in Rhode Island, so read on to discover more about it.
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Gambling in the Ocean State has deep roots. It is defined in the Section 11-51-1(a) of the State Statutes as “Gambling includes, but is not limited to, pool-selling, bookmaking, maintaining slot machines, roulette wheels or dice tables, and conducting lotteries, Policy, Bolita, or numbers games or selling chances in them.”
First, the Ocean State legalized parimutuel betting on horse racing at Narragansett Park and Lincoln Downs racetracks that were operational until the 1970s. Then, the State Lottery kicked in and introduced both local and interstate lottery draws, bingo, and pull-tab games.
Then, to counteract the opening of Foxwoods Resort Casino in neighboring Connecticut, Rhode Island allowed VLT machines at racetracks. Full-fledged casinos were permitted after a referendum in 2012, and two of them were established — Twin River Casino Hotel and Tiverton Casino Hotel.
As of 2018 and the lift of a lengthy ban on sports betting by the US Supreme Court, these two casinos can offer sports betting to their visitors.
Now, all these developments did little to support online gambling in Rhode Island. Online gambling casinos and poker rooms remain illegal under state law. The legislators have attempted to introduce at least some forms of online gambling, like the one from Rep. Charlene M. Lima who wanted the state lottery to include online lottery tickets, but to no avail.
However, some forms of online gambling take place legally in Rhode Island. Namely, there isn’t a law that prohibits players from playing at offshore online casinos that accept players from Rhode Island, and many of them do. As they are not licensed within Rhode Island, the online casino ban does not apply.
Also, online sports betting was launched in 2018, and the two land-based casinos run their online sports betting platforms in cooperation with IGT. The only difference is that players need to verify their accounts in-person before they can start placing bets.
In addition, betting on Daily Fantasy Sports is also allowed in Rhode Island, as it is regarded as a game of skill which, under the State Statutes, is considered a legal form of gambling. Therefore, it is legal to bet on Fantasy Sports online.
All legislative changes regarding gambling in Rhode Island need to come by way of a general referendum, rather than constitutional amendments. When we look at the history of these amendments, voters seem to be in favor of expanding the gambling options in the state, so it is safe to assume that online casinos might be next.
Given how the states around Rhode Island are broadening their gambling offer with online casinos and sportsbooks, Rhode Island would do well to jump the bandwagon and bolster their budget with a vast revenue online casinos will undoubtedly generate.
Also, considering how the development of the gambling offer in Rhode Island works, the two land-based casinos will probably be the ones to offer online versions of their casino floors.
Although the officials have long resisted the calls to include online gambling in the political agenda, the situation will hopefully change soon, which will allow Rhode Islanders to indulge in online gaming that is licensed and regulated by their own gambling commission.
There are two land-based casinos in Rhode Island — Twin River Casino Hotel and Tiverton Casino Hotel. Both casinos are owned by Twin River Management Group that also owns casinos in Mississippi and Colorado.
Twin River Casino Hotel is located in Lincoln, Rhode Island, and is the largest gaming venue in the entire Ocean State. Its gaming floor spans over 162,000 square feet and houses around 5,000 different games. There are 4,200 slot machines and 114 live casino tables where players can enjoy blackjack, roulette, craps, and even poker. Twin River Casino Hotel offers numerous amenities, including 136 rooms and suites, restaurants, bars, indoor pool, spa, fitness center, and a 29,000+ square feet Twin River Event Center for concerts and other performances. Twin River Casino’s gaming floor is divided into smoking (1st Floor) and smoke-free (2nd Floor) casino sections to meet all kinds of players’ needs.
Tiverton Casino Hotel is located in Tiverton and directly competes with Foxwoods Casino. To do so and appeal to players, Tiverton Casino Hotel relies on its 33,600 square feet of gaming space with over 1,000 slot machines, 32 live table games, and 18 hybrid games that are a mix of blackjack, roulette, baccarat, three card poker, and others. The hotel features 83 elegant rooms and suites, a fitness center, and a conference room to complement your stay and gaming experience.
Online gambling in Rhode Island is still in its inception. Nobody knows when exactly Rhode Islanders will have a fully functional online casino where they can enjoy their favorite casino games from the comfort of their homes and on the go. In the meanwhile, offshore casinos are viable options for all players from Rhode Island, as they can access them without any fear of legal retribution from the state since these casinos are not registered in Rhode Island. Still, they are licensed and regulated under international gambling jurisdictions that guarantee fairness and safety to players.
The only forms of online gambling legal in Rhode Island at the moment are online sports betting and betting on Daily Fantasy Sports. Online casinos are not legitimate as of yet.
The minimum legal gambling age to play at Rhode Island casinos is 18.
There are no indications that online gambling will become legal anytime soon. The entire process of changing the legislation is lengthy and requires Rhode Islanders to cast their votes in favor of online gambling in a referendum before it can become legal.
Online sportsbooks are legal in Rhode Island and are run by the two brick-and-mortar casinos in Rhode Island. Before placing a bet on the online betting sites of these casinos, players need to register and verify their accounts in person.
Online poker is currently not legal in Rhode Island, and there are no indications when online poker rooms will become licensed.