Rhode Island Senate Approves Raising Credit Limits at Bally’s Casinos

Posted on: June 9, 2024, 11:35h. 

Last updated on: June 18, 2024, 02:08h.

The Rhode Island Senate last week approved legislation to allow the state’s two commercial casinos to lend higher amounts of cash to high rollers.

Rhode Island casinos Bally's credit
Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and Bally’s Tiverton in Rhode Island could soon be allowed to offer high rollers larger amounts of credit after legislation advanced in the state capital last week. Currently, casinos are limited to extending up to $50K in cash to gamblers after performing credit checks to make sure they’re good for such advances. (Image: WPRI)

Senate Bill 3040 seeks to amend the state’s gaming regulations to permit Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and Bally’s Tiverton to double the credit they can lend to VIPs and other gamblers wishing to bet big.

Under Rhode Island’s present rules, the two brick-and-mortar casinos can lend up to $50K per player in cash. SB3040 would take the cap to $100K.

The state Senate on Thursday voted 28-5 in favor of the measure. It now moves to the state House of Representatives where it’s been directed to the chamber’s Finance Committee for initial review.

Bally’s asked state Sen. President Dominick Ruggerio (D-North Providence) for the higher lending line. The Rhode Island-based gaming corporation said the amendment is needed to allow its casinos to compete with gaming resorts in neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts where there are no limits.

Opponents Raise Problem Gambling Concerns

State Sen. Sam Bell (D-Providence) was among the “no” votes for SB3040. He pondered why a casino should need to allow a gambler to lose more than $50K in a single day.

This is bad,” Bell declared. “Going into debt from gambling is dangerous. We should not maximize profit when it comes to an addictive product.”

Bally’s says many high rollers have the financial ability to weather such losses. Extending credit isn’t to provide gamblers with money they don’t have, but to provide them with an easier, safer means of obtaining large sums of cash than carrying tens of thousands of dollars in bills into the business.

Credit, or “markers,” must be repaid by the player within a certain timeframe, typically 15 to 45 days. Casinos also don’t lend markers to players without doing a credit check.

The Bally’s Lincoln and Tiverton credit applications require players to provide two banking accounts that are verified by a third-party service. Applicants who falsely complete a credit application are subject to criminal liability for perjury under Rhode Island’s General Laws.

The Rhode Island House has until June 14 to pass the casino credit bill to Gov. Daniel McKee’s (D) desk.

Casino Smoking Remains

Legislation introduced in February to overhaul the state’s clean indoor air law that provides indoor smoking exceptions for Rhode Island’s casinos and parimutuel wagering facilities won’t reach McKee’s desk this year.

In May, House Bill 7500 was tabled by the House Finance Committee to allow a “further study” to be completed on the economic implications of forcing gaming venues to go smoke-free. Rhode Island’s Public Health and Workplace Safety Act passed in 2024 allows for indoor casino smoking.

Bally’s in 2022 announced that tobacco smoking would no longer be permitted at table games.

A grassroots coalition of Bally’s casino workers continues to lobby state lawmakers in Providence to pass legislation to free their workplaces of secondhand smoke. Ruggerio, one of the most powerful lawmakers in the heavily Democrat-controlled General Assembly, is opposed to such a change.

The Senate president last year said gamblers who don’t want to be around tobacco smoke should “stay home” and gamble online. Ruggerio is a smoker himself and has battled cancer in the past.