Online Casino Bill Goes to Governor in Rhode Island, First to Approve iGaming in 2023

Posted on: June 16, 2023, 09:06h. 

Last updated on: June 16, 2023, 02:20h.

Rhode Island legislators closed the final day of the 2023 session with a first. The state became the first this year to approve an online casino bill.

The Rhode Island state capitol building against the Providence skyline, above. Legislators in the capitol approved a new bill allowing igaming in the state.(Image: Getty)

Late Thursday, after a fiery debate, the Rhode Island House approved bills allowing online gambling or iGaming. In a 57-11 vote, the House approved a bill by Rep. Gregory Costantino (D-44) and by a vote of 56-11 passed the identical bill approved by the Senate just a week ago.

There was vocal opposition to the measure, but multiple proposed amendments were ultimately defeated. The unamended bill, therefore, now heads to the desk of Gov. Daniel McKee.

The Rhode Island online casino launch date is set for March 1, 2024, pending the governor’s signature. Rhode Island would become the seventh state to legalize online iGaming, or online casino.

Several states, including New York, Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire, considered but failed to approve online gambling bills this year.

Rhode Island iGaming Bill Details

The bill requires the use of a live dealer for online table games, and the games are simulcast to those playing through their mobile devices. It defines casino gaming as any casino-style game played with cards, dice or equipment for money, credit or any representative value.

The Rhode Island Lottery will be the regulator, and the proposal creates one online casino app. The minimum age required for iGaming is 21, while all other forms of Rhode Island gaming are 18 years old. Table games will be taxed at 15.5 percent and online slots at 61 percent.

The state will also be allowed to enter into iGaming multistate agreements. A potential big difference for online poker for a small state like Rhode Island with slightly more than 1 million people. Lawmakers say Rhode Island is attempting to stay competitive in the industry with neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Swift Move

This Spring, online gambling legislation was nowhere on the horizon. Then Senate President Dominick Ruggerio filed the online casino bill in late April. Less than two months later, it has passed both chambers.

Once the bill reaches Governor McKee’s desk, he has 6 days to act. If he takes no action, the bill would become law on the seventh day.

Bally’s will offer online games through the IGT platform, which operates in brick-and-mortar casinos in the state. Bally’s is headquartered in Providence. Bally’s projects additional gross gaming revenue at $130 million. Gambling is the third-largest revenue generator for the state.