Rhode Island is a state that is best-known for its size, or lack thereof. The state’s 1,214 square miles makes it the smallest state in terms of area.
Even worse, almost 14 percent of Rhode Island’s property is water. This percentage is the source of its official nickname, The Ocean State.
However, the state has been unafraid to assert itself throughout its history. Rhode Island was the last of the original 13 to ratify the Constitution, and it will be one of the first to offer sports betting to its residents sometime in 2018.
Rhode Island sports betting
The US Supreme Court declared a decades-old ban on sports betting unconstitutional in May 2018. Rhode Island was the very first state in the union to hold hearings about bringing sports betting to its citizens once the opinion was issued.
Now, all that is left is to finish out state regulations and get sports books in the state’s two casinos. Regulators and casino operators were shooting to launch by October 2018. However, in August, the state announced it would launch later than expected, likely in November, mid-way through football season.
Both Rhode Island casinos will maintain a sports betting operation. Twin River Casino in Lincoln will have a full sportsbook. Twin River Tiverton Casino and Hotel will have a kiosk to serve its customers.
Gaming company IGT has a relationship with Rhode Island’s casinos and Rhode Island itself. The company will provide the entirety of the technical expertise necessary to bring Rhode Island’s sports betting online.
As a result, IGT is actually due to collect a greater percentage of sports betting revenue than the casinos themselves. Here’s how the split breaks down:
- State of Rhode Island: 51 percent
- IGT: 32 percent
- Casinos: 17 percent
Strange as it may seem, casinos will surrender over 80 percent of their earnings to other entities. However, this split only serves to underline the degree of symbiosis between Rhode Island’s casinos and the government.
The law does not provide for mobile or online sports wagering. However, legislators have expressed interest in legalizing those forms of wagering in the near-future. IGT will undoubtedly figure into those plans when the time comes.
Rhode Island online gambling
At present, there is no legal online gambling in Rhode Island. The state’s efforts are far more focused on getting sports betting off the ground in 2018.
The bill did not make it to a vote. The good news, however, is that legalizing online gambling might be a matter of voter referendum, rather than a constitutional amendment.
Voters have already approved broad gambling referendums in the state in both 2012 and 2016. So, going that route with online gambling might have a good chance of success.
If gambling were permitted online, the state’s two casinos would be the likely operators. In fact, since both are owned by the same company, it is possible that only one online casino would operate.
Rhode Island social casino options
There are no prohibitions against social casinos in Rhode Island. In fact, its main casino, Twin River Casino, offers its own social casino site.
The Twin River site operates much like an actual casino would. Players compete for credits that have no monetary value.
Wisely, Twin River seems to be using its social casino as a way to familiarize the public with its offerings. As a result, players can play slots, table games, poker, and a host of tournaments completely free.
There are even active promotions and leaderboard competitions on the social site. Overall, it is a more complete presentation than most social casinos.
Players in Rhode Island can also access any of the typical social casino options. Big Fish, Double Down, and Zynga are all permitted in the Ocean State.
Finally, Rhode Island residents can make use of the MyVegas suite of games from MGM Resorts. These sites allow players to rack up loyalty points which can be redeemed for actual comps at MGM properties.
Rhode Island’s proximity to New York and New Jersey means that several MGM properties are within striking distance, and thus, possibilities for comps won on the site. These possibilities include Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
State casino operator history
Rhode Island’s first move towards legalizing gambling occurred back in 1934. That year, voters approved the addition of pari-mutuel betting on horse races.
Two racetracks, Narragansett Park and Lincoln Downs, eventually opened to serve the public’s wagering needs. Both tracks lasted until the 1970s before closing down.
However, the demise of horseracing seemed more like a passing of the baton. In 1973, Rhode Island introduced the state lottery.
Further referendums brought pull-tab lottery games and bingo to the Ocean State. Limited forms of off-track betting showed up at Newport Jai Alai and Lincoln Greyhound Park.
In 1992, Foxwoods Resort Casino opened across the border in Connecticut and began drawing money away from Rhode Island. In response, the state began to allow video lottery terminals at the racetrack.
Casinos finally arrive
In 2012, voters approved full-scale table gaming for two casinos, the Twin River Casino and the Newport Grand Casino. In 2015, Twin River bought its rival, and became the lone casino operator in Rhode Island.
Twin River is the larger of the two casinos by far. The property hosts over 4,200 slot machines and over 100 table games. The property sits where the old Lincoln Downs racetrack used to be.
By virtue of a second voter referendum in 2016, Newport Grand, which was originally owned by businessmen Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. and Paul G. Roiff, is in the process of moving its operations from Newport. The new facility, dubbed Twin River Tiverton Casino & Hotel, will reside in Tiverton in order to compete directly with Foxwoods.
Twin River Management Group owns and operates both casinos. The company also owns Arapahoe Park, a racino in Aurora, Colorado, and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Both casinos in Rhode Island will have some manner of sports betting. The Twin River Casino in Lincoln will have a full sportsbook. The Tiverton location will have a kiosk for placing bets.
Land-based Rhode Island casinos
|Twin River Casino||Lincoln||S, C, BJ, R, P, B, PGP, 3C, S21, LR, OTB, SB (soon)|
|Twin River Tiverton Casino and Hotel||Tiverton||S, Table Games, SB (soon)|
*Slots (S), Craps (C), Blackjack (BJ), Roulette (R), Baccarat (B), Poker (P), Mini-Baccarat (MBac), Pai Gow Poker (PGP), Pai Gow Tiles (PGT), Let It Ride (LR), Caribbean Stud Poker (CS), Crazy 4 Poker (C4), 3 Card Poker (3C), 4 Card Poker (4C), Ultimate Texas Hold’em (UTH), High Card Flush (HCF), Mississippi Stud (MS), Texas Hold’em Bonus (THB), Spanish 21 (S21), Big Six Wheel (B6), Bingo (BI), Keno (K), Sports Betting (SB), Off-Track Betting (OTB)
State Gambling Guide
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Online Gambling||No||Probably coming in the not-too-distant future|
|Charitable or House-Based Gambling||Yes||Bingo in senior retirement facilities|
Minimum Gambling Age