Lawsuit challenges the legality of sports betting in Rhode Island

On Wednesday, attorneys in Rhode Island filed a lawsuit against state lottery officials, challenging the legality of sports betting in Rhode Island.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys representing Daniel S. Harrop, a physician and a former Republican candidate for mayor.

Fontaine Bell & Associates and Larisa Law are acting as counsel for Harrop in his fight against “unconstitutional sports betting.”

Former chair of the Rhode Island Republican Party, Brandon Bell, helped create the lawsuit.

In a press statement released in March, Bell said: “…the General Assembly has refused to follow our State Constitution by seeking voter approval before expanding gambling in the form of sports gambling, and now online sports gambling.”

“Unconstitutional sports betting”

Harrop wants the courts to declare that Rhode Island’s sports betting laws violate the rights of the people.

According to the state’s constitution, the expansion of gambling in the Ocean State requires the approval of voters.

Unlike video lottery terminals and casino gambling, sports betting has never appeared on the ballot for Rhode Island voters.

Senate Resident Dominick Ruggerio has said that legal advice says voters approved sports betting when they voted to approve casino gambling. Ruggerio and the state’s Governor are both confident the state will prevail against the lawsuit.

The launch of sports betting in Rhode Island

The discussion over sports betting in Rhode Island came about after the tax revenue from sports betting was included in last year’s budget.

After Governor Gina Raimondo approved the budget, the Ocean State launched sports betting operations in November 2018, becoming the eighth state to offer sports betting.

As the activity was authorized and launched without approval from voters, Harrop asserts that the activity of betting on sports in Rhode Island should be considered illegal.

In March 2019, lawmakers in the state passed legislation that would allow operators in the state to offer state-wide online and mobile sports betting. However, residents will be required to sign up in person at a land-based casino.

No date has been set for the launch of online betting in the state.

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