Rhode Island Senate Committee Hits Pause On Online Casino Bill 

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on May 11, 2023
Rhode Island online casino legislation held in Senate

The Rhode Island online casino bill (SB948) which lawmakers introduced in April, is currently put on hold.

Before moving forward, Senate Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs Committee members voted to wait and get some questions about it answered.

In this particular case, SB948 specifies using the Bally Casino app. The app is powered by Bally’s Corporation, which has two retail casinos in the state and pushed for the legislation.

If the proposal receives the green light, it could come into effect as early as Jan. 1, 2024. Rhode Island would impose a 50% tax rate on online slots and 18% on table games.

Compared to other US jurisdictions looking to legalize online casinos, Rhode Island lawmakers are not concerned about the cannibalization of retail casino revenue.

Rhode Island Senate Committee’s concerns about online gambling bill

According to Bonus.com, State Sen. Elaine J. Morgan wasn’t the only committee member with questions and concerns regarding the Rhode Island online casino bill. Morgan (R-Ashaway) requested changing the legal gambling age in the bill from 18 to 21.

Furthermore, Chairman Walter S. Felag Jr. wanted to know how the casino app would keep children from gambling. Elizabeth Suever, Bally’s VP of government relations, suggested players could set up facial recognition and multi-factor authentication as only accountholders.

State Sen. Pamela J. Lauria (D-Barrington) expressed concerns about gambling limits and ads. Suever said Bally’s wouldn’t advertise in the state since it would have a monopoly.

SBA suggests introducing more online casino apps

Jon Mandel of the Sports Betting Alliance (SBA) pressed members to change the legislation and allow more than one online casino operator. Mandel suggested a bill amendment that would expand the planned online gambling market.

The alliance, which includes BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics and FanDuel, recommended changing the text of the proposed legislation to create a competitive scene.

Mandel emphasized that healthy competition with multiple online casino operators can deliver more tax proceeds. A competitive online gambling market in Rhode Island would also offer plenty of betting options for the residents.

On behalf of Light and Wonder, Leonard Lopes requested the committee add a bill amendment. He suggested that Rhode Island should not allow gambling companies with illegal sites operating worldwide.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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