Rhode Island’s Senate President introduces mobile sports betting bill

Rhode Island’s Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has introduced legislation that would authorize mobile sports betting.

If the legislation is successful, mobile sports betting will be made available through the two Twin River casinos in the state.

In a press statement, Ruggerio said: “The new in-person sportsbook that opened in November has been very popular, with lines stretching out the doors. It is an entertainment option that many Rhode Islanders enjoy, and visitors from outside the state are also flocking to our gaming facilities to place their wagers on sporting events.

“Expanding to mobile gaming would provide a convenient option for those wishing to enjoy this form of entertainment and open up the economic benefits beyond the walls of Twin River.”

Looking closer at the bill, it would authorize the creation of an app to access the sports betting offerings available at the Twin River casinos in the state.

Mobile sports betting in Rhode Island would function in a similar way to mobile sports betting in Nevada as residents in the state would be required to set their accounts up in person at a Twin River casino.

After creating an account, residents would be free to place sports wagers using the app as long as they are physically located within the state of Rhode Island.

In terms of taxation, nothing will change. Sportsbooks in the state only hold onto 17% of sports betting revenue while the state will receive 51% revenue and IGT will continue to receive 32% of revenue.

Ruggerio added: “Revenue from sports gaming supports critical state services, like road and bridge repairs, education and human services. This revenue offsets reliance on taxes for state needs.

“It is estimated that 97 percent of sports betting takes place illegally. This is an opportunity to give Rhode Islanders and visitors a legal avenue to participate in an activity they enjoy, while providing a very tangible benefit to our state.”

If the bill is passed it could also create an opportunity for more sports betting vendors to enter the Rhode Island sports betting market.

The bill says the director of the state lottery would be granted the power to “enter into contracts for the provision of server-based gaming systems, facilities and related technology necessary and/or desirable for the state-operated online sports wagering.”

The use of the word “contracts” implies that there is a possibility that the state lottery could enter into more than one contract for mobile sports betting, suggesting that other sports betting operators could strike deal with the lottery.

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