Rhode Island sports betting is trending from possible to likely as Governor Gina Raimondo and state legislators look for ways to increase revenue. Unveiled late last week, Raimondo’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year actually includes projected revenue from legalized sports betting in the state.
Department of Revenue spokesman Paul Grimaldi estimates that legalized sports betting in Rhode Island would generate $23.5 million on $815 million in gross wagering, reports the Providence Journal.
Of course as in every state including neighbors Massachusetts and Connecticut, which Rhode Island wants to keep up, the state needs a favorable decision in Christie v NCAA, aka the Supreme Court sports betting case.
Details on Rhode Island Sports Betting Measure Are Sparse, But There’s Momentum to Move Forward With Legalization
There’s logistical hurdles for getting sports betting officially legalized in Rhode Island but there’s currently a couple avenues: An amendment to the state constitution (required to approve new gambling types in the state) or, according to Senate President Dominick Ruggiero, the passage of a bill that would allow sports betting so long as it takes place at the Twin River Casino located in Lincoln and/or the proposed Tiverton casino.
Ruggiero, who previously expressed optimism for sports betting legislation, introduced the bipartisan Senate Bill 2045 on Thursday that would legalized sports betting “when authorized by federal law/court decision regulated by lottery division with no wagering on Rhode Island college teams.”
The bill was referred to the committee on Senate Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs. Ruggiero believes that previously approved ballot measures would allow sports wagering. The bill tasks the division of lotteries with creating a framework for state-operated sports wagering:
Voter approval of sports wagering shall be implemented by providing an infrastructure for state-operated sports wagering offered by the Twin River gaming facilities in Lincoln and Tiverton, by authorizing necessary amendments to certain contracts and by authorizing the division of lotteries to promulgate regulations to direct and control state-operated sports wagering, such infrastructure and authorizations to become effective when federal law is enacted or repealed or the United States Supreme Court affirms the authority of states to regulate sports wagering within their respective borders.
While the mechanism to bring sports betting to Rhode Island remains unclear, Governor Raimondo is clearly on board. Also unclear are the rules, regulations and taxes that would produce a projected $22.5 million.
“[Sports betting] will look very similar to other states that have already been doing it like Delaware,” said Raimondo.
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The $23.5 seems extremely aspirational. I have no idea how they arrived that that figure, but it would assume about a 2.3% collection on overall handle or over 50% on a typical hold of 5% by the sportsbooks. There might be a one-time licensure fee of about $1 million factored in but it still seems way too high.
“Connecticut is going to do it, Massachusetts is going to do it, New Jersey is, we don’t want to be left behind” Raimondo said per WLNE-TV.. “So, we want to get ready so we also can participate.”
Rhode Island officials will have to iron out the details and the math, but the momentum is clearly in favor of taking advantage of the opportunity, should New Jersey prevail and the federal law prohibition sports betting outside Nevada get struck.
A decision in Christie v NCAA is expected in April or May.