Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the nation, but its residents have access to a wide range of gambling options. Horse race betting was legalized in 1934, but both of the local racetracks were closed down in the 1970s due to financial difficulties.
In 1973, Rhode Island amended its constitution and launched a state lottery. Further referendums authorized pull-tab games and bingo. Horse race betting was also re-introduced to the state via off-track betting facilities at Newport Jai Alai and Lincoln Park.
In 1992, the General Assembly allowed VLTs at those facilities in response to Foxwoods Resort Casino being opened in Connecticut. However, table games wouldn’t be introduced to the state until 2012. In 2003, Newport Jai Alai was converted into a VLT parlor, which was ultimately closed down in 2018 to make room for a new casino in Tiverton. Lincoln Park was renamed Twin River Casino in 2007 and remains open to this day.
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Rhode Island Gambling Law Summary
Rhode Island regulations define gambling as “directly or indirectly setting up, publicly or privately, any chance, game or device for the purpose of disposing of money, or assisting others in such actions.” The law is focused on illegal gambling operators and their employees. Participating in unauthorized games isn’t explicitly prohibited, but acting as a dealer, banker, or lookout carries a sentence of up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Even promoting illegal gambling is considered a felony and is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.
Rhode Island lawmakers haven’t authorized casino-style online gambling or poker so far, so local gambling enthusiasts don’t have access to any legitimate, reliable sites.
Rhode Island General Laws § 11-19-1 et seq. and § 41-3-1 et seq cover all gambling-related matters. The minimum gambling age is 18.
Online Gambling in Rhode Island
Gambling in the Rhode Island area is regulated by the Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11. The local laws don’t mention online gambling in any shape or form. Furthermore, while the current regulations are very harsh when it comes to dealing with illegal gambling operators, they don’t address the participants of illegal gambling activities. The only type of criminal activity that could be associated with individual gamblers is “frequenting a gambling place,” which could land you for up to 30 days in jail. However, this rule applies exclusively to physical locations. Consequently, the local authorities don’t bother with going after online gamblers – and even if they did, it’s very doubtful they’d be able to get a conviction.
It’s worth noting that Rhode Island was the first state to hold hearings about legal sports betting when the Supreme Court struck down the federal PASPA ban on this form of gambling. The bill authorizing the local casinos to begin offering sports betting Gov. Gina Raimondo signed services on June 22, 2018. Internet betting was initially off-limits, but in March 2019, the House voted in favor of allowing sportsbooks to offer online betting and betting on the go. The new services are expected to launch in September or October this year.
Rhode Island Casinos
Rhode Island residents have access to two land-based gambling establishments. The first, Twin River Casino, is located in Lincoln, while the second, Twin River Tiverton Casino and Hotel, is located in Tiverton. The same company owns both venues, and both offer traditional table games and VLTs, which are functionally identical with slots.
Online games are currently unavailable, and introducing them to the state would require a voter referendum. This wouldn’t be unprecedented since local lawmakers already approved gambling-related referenda in 2012 and 2016, but it should be noted that the closest opportunity to challenge the current status quo will come in 2020.
Rhode Island Poker
The Twin River Casino in Lincoln operates a 22-table poker room, which hosts $1/$2 and $2/$5 No-Limit Hold ’em cash games daily. High-stakes No-Limit Hold ’em, Limit Hold ’em, and Stud are also available occasionally, but unfortunately, the Casino isn’t huge on poker tournaments.
Online poker play is limited to social sites, but as mentioned above, the situation could change following a voter referendum. It should be noted that playing on offshore sites isn’t explicitly prohibited, but players who engage in that kind of activity would be left no legal recourse in case of foul play on the operator’s side.
Rhode Island Sports Betting
Rhode Island legislators legalized land-based betting in June 2018 and followed up on this bill with another piece of legislation authorizing betting over the internet in March 2019. Twin River Casino is expected to open a fully-fledged sportsbook later this year, while the Tiverton facility will likely only have a betting kiosk. As for the online services, it’s still too early to speculate, but it seems almost certain that both venues will be connected to a single platform.
Also, Rhode Island allows off-track betting on horse and greyhound races. Residents of the Ocean State can engage in this form of gambling via popular racing platforms, TwinSpires, and TVG.
Rhode Island Daily Fantasy Sports
Rhode Island lawmakers haven’t passed a bill that’d regulate paid-entry DFS contests yet, even though legislation of this kind has been proposed in 2017 and 2018. Fortunately, there’s zero doubt that DFS contests are already legal under the current law. In 2016, Rhode Island Attorney General, Peter Kilmartin, issued the following statement: “Applying the ‘dominant factor’ standard, I do not believe that daily fantasy sports constitute a ‘game of chance’ and therefore, daily fantasy sports games do not constitute a lottery under Rhode Island law.”
Thus, Rhode Island-based sports enthusiasts are free to access all major DFS platforms, including FanDuel, DraftKings, Yahoo DFS, and CBS Sports.
Rhode Island Lotteries
Rhode Island lottery offers a wide range of interstate and intrastate lotto games, including Mega Millions and Powerball, as well as keno, instant scratchers, and pull-tab games. Rhode Island politicians considered authorizing online lottery ticket sales and even proposed a bill that’d allow online scratcher ticket sales, but unfortunately, this bill wasn’t even voted on. As it stands, all tickets have to be purchased from land-based retailers, and the lottery website doesn’t serve any purpose beyond providing Rhode Island residents with up-to-date some general information and latest lotto drawing results.
Rhode Island Bingo
Bingo is available as a charity game in senior retirement facilities and as a commercial game at the Twin River Casino. Regulated online bingo is not available, but playing on offshore sites isn’t explicitly prohibited. It should be noted that, much like in the case of online poker, players who deposit to such sites won’t be able to rely on the state when it comes to customer protection.
Rhode Island Online Gambling FAQ
What types of gambling are available in RI?
Rhode Island isn’t an excellent place for casino-style gambling enthusiasts, but fortunately, the state has some redeeming qualities when it comes to land-based games of chance. Rhode Island has two large pari-mutuel facilities, and both of them allow you to play blackjack, keno, slots, and video poker using VLTs. Please note that only one of those facilities is allowed to offer table games, which is a result of the referendum held in early 2014. Rhode Island allows charitable gambling and has a state-run lottery, but doesn’t have any regulated online gambling sites.
What laws cover online gambling in Rhode Island?
Most of the issues about placing real money wagers are covered by Section 11 of the Rhode Island General Laws. Please note that while the law is rather strict when it comes to unlicensed land-based gambling, it doesn’t appear to criminalize playing games of chance over the internet. Since no players have been prosecuted so far, most experts simply assume that online gambling is legal within the borders of Rhode Island.
Is real money online gambling legal in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island gambling laws don’t criminalize online play, so there is nothing to stop you from enjoying your favorite games or engaging in some sports betting action on offshore sites.
Which offshore gambling sites accept Rhode Island residents?
Offshore sites value players from Rhode Island, so if you live there, you don’t have to worry about being unable to take advantage of any gambling-related offer.
What are the most popular banking options supported by Rhode Island-facing sites?
Visa and MasterCard deposits remain fairly popular among Rhode Island residents, but you should keep in mind that your card has to be cleared for international transactions to be accepted by an offshore gambling site. When it comes to cashing out, we recommend going for wire transfers over checks, as relying on the latter method tends to get rather expensive unless you’re moving massive amounts of cash.
Does Rhode Island offer any intrastate online gambling?
Unfortunately, Rhode Island legislators have never made an effort to build a local online gaming market in the past. As a result, Rhode Island -residents have no Rhode Island-exclusive sites to play on.
Is it likely for Rhode Island to regulate online gambling?
Rhode Island might team up with Delaware when it comes to iGaming, but this process is likely to take some time. Consequently, it’s almost impossible for Rhode Island to introduce any iGaming-friendly legislation in 2015 or 2016.