Rhode Island Ready to Legalize Sports Betting, But Says ‘No’ to Integrity FeeBy Jill R. Dorson | Published: June 14, 2018 at 5:44 pm
The state of Rhode Island could very likely be the next to offer legal sports betting. The state legislature is set to vote on an appropriations bill that outlines a framework for legal RI sports betting on Friday, and according to the text, voters in Rhode Island have already approved sports betting.
The bill, H7200A, an appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019, has a 15-page section relating to sports betting and Rhode Island’s governor has long had a sports betting budget item – on the income side – in her 2019 budget. H7200A is proof of where the money would come from.
Governor Gina Raimondo has earmarked $23.5 million in sports betting revenue in her budget.
Rhode Island Lawmakers Are Set to Vote Appropriations Bill That Would Make RI Sports Betting Legal, But Expressly Forbids ‘Integrity Fee.’
The appropriations bill calls for the state lottery to regulate sports betting at Rhode Island’s two gaming facilities at Twin River and Tiverton, both tribal-owned gaming facilities.
The bill not only does not include the integrity fee that the major professional sports leagues have been lobbying for, it actually expressly forbids paying that fee:
42-61.2-5. Allocation of sports wagering revenue.
(d) Under no circumstances shall the state or the division pay an integrity fee to any sports league. [Article 4, Relating to Taxes and Revenue, page 20, line 4 of the bill ]
Should the bill pass, Rhode Island would become the second state to pass legislation without an integrity fee (New Jersey was the first on June 11) since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on May 14. Rhode Island would also become the third state, behind Delaware and New Jersey to accept sports bets in a state with no payout to the pro leagues.
Key Points in RI Sports Betting Bill, Set for Vote on Friday.
Among the other key items in the bill:
- Rhode Island casinos will not accept bets on any Rhode Island collegiate team, regardless of where the event is taking place;
- Patrons may place sports bets at state video-lottery terminals;
- The bill does allow for mobile and/or internet gaming, but specifies “on-premises remote sports wagering;”
- The bill would require the Twin River and Tiverton facilities to “pay the division all reasonable costs and expenses associated with the division’s oversight of and review of the operation of sports wagering,” which essentially means the casinos will be paying for their own integrity monitoring;
- Data used in Rhode Island sports betting would not come from the leagues, but from a “sports wagering vendor;”
- The bill requires the state to pay the towns of Lincoln (home to Twin River Casino) and Tiverton $100,000 annually as payment for those communities hosting sports betting.
While the tax rate is not directly addressed in the bill, there is a section that reads: “under no circumstances shall the Twin River and Tiverton gaming facilities or any sports wagering vendor receive a larger share of sports wagering revenue than the state.”
However Rhode Island lawmakers have structured the bill, they key element is timing. Should the state assembly pass the appropriations bill Friday, it seems a sure bet that Raimondo will sign it into law and Rhode Island.