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.
IGT-Twin River owns both casinos. In June of 2021, IGT and Twin Rivers owner Bally’s gained control of the most of the state’s gambling operations for the next two decades. The company also owns Arapahoe Park, a racino in Aurora, Colorado, and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Both casinos in Rhode Island have some manner of sports betting. The Twin River Casino in Lincoln has a full sportsbook. The Tiverton location has a kiosk for placing bets.
Rhode Island becomes the seventh state with real money online casinos on Mar. 1, 2024. Bally’s, the state’s casino partner, debuted its online casino on that date.