Rhode Island Governor Signs iGaming into Law

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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee has signed into law iGaming legislation approved by state lawmakers last Thursday. Online slots and table games are expected to launch in the state sometime in mid-2024 under the legislation.

Sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, the legislation (S948) authorizes the Rhode Island Lottery to implement statewide online slots and table games tied to the state’s only two casinos – Bally’s Twin River casino in Lincoln and Twin River-Tiverton.

The new law will take effect on March 1, 2024.

McKee had until the end of the day Thursday to sign or veto the iGaming bill before it became law without his signature – but there was little doubt that he would sign.

It was McKee, after all, who signed off on a 2021 law giving Bally’s and tech company IGT no-bid control over the state’s casino operations through 2043.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee is expected to sign the state's iGaming bill.
Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Rhode Island is the seventh state to  legalize iGaming. The six other states with legal iGaming are Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Sports betting has been legal in Rhode Island at the state’s two casinos since late 2018, followed by a 2019 mobile launch of a lottery/William Hill sportsbook app hosted by Bally’s. That makes the Ocean State one of the first states to launch retail and mobile sports betting after the US Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a federal prohibition of state regulation of sports betting in most jurisdictions.

Online Slots Taxed at High Rate Under Rhode Island Legislation

The Rhode Island Senate voted 32-4 for final passage of the iGaming proposal in S948 on June 15 after letting the legislation stall for weeks in committee. It gained momentum in early June and easily passed both chambers of the legislature last week.

The final vote came after the Senate agreed to House changes approved by a vote of 56-11 earlier in the day.

Under the legislation as passed, online slots revenue will be taxed at 61 percent, with remaining revenue split between Bally’s and its affiliates.

The towns of Lincoln and Tiverton (where Bally’s brick-and-mortar casinos are located) will collectively receive 1.45 percent of online slot revenue split 77/23 respectively.

Online table game revenue will be taxed at 15.5 percent. The majority (83.5 percent) of revenue will go to Bally’s and its affiliates in the state, while one percent will be divided 80/20 between the towns of Lincoln and Tiverton respectively.

State tax revenue generated by iGaming in Rhode Island could reach $210 million in the first five years, by some estimates.

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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