Rhode Island is known for many things, namely for being the last state to ratify the constitution, from the original 13 states. One of the most popular statements about this state is that it is the smallest state on the map.
It’s tiny, the state spans only 1,214 total square miles in area. From this area, 14% is water, giving it one it’s nicknamed: The Ocean State, even if Little Rhody is also used. With the small size, comes a small population as well but it is not the smallest in population. In terms of population, the state is ranked 43rd.
Even if the state is small, you will find several different types of gaming available, namely sports betting, as it will be the first state to offer it to their residents in 2018.
It’s in 1934 the beginning of legal gambling in Rhode Island when voters approved pari-mutuel betting for horse racing. Narragansett Park and Lincoln Downs racetracks were open for a few decades satisfying the citizens wagering needs, but
both were closed during the 1970s.
This end for the racing tracks happened more or less at the same time when the state lottery was introduced, in 1973. A referendum also approved bingo, pull-tab lottery games, and off-track betting.
In 1992 the neighboring state Connecticut opened the Foxwoods Resort Casino close to the border, and this meant that Rhode Island citizens started to take their money there. The state didn’t like this and trying to fight it started allowing video lottery terminals.
As for casinos, Rhode Island had to wait 20 more years to see voters approving casinos at their full scale, so in 2012 the Newport Grand Casino and the Twin River Casino came to life. Later in 1995 the Twin River bought out the competition and is today the only casino operator in the state.
In 2016, a second referendum determined that the Twin River will be moving to Tiverton and Lincoln. The first will be renamed Twin River Tiverton Casino & Hotel and the move has the purpose to make direct competition to Foxwoods, with the additional attraction of holding sports betting.
Sports betting is also a part of Rhode Island gambling history as it was the first state to try to make it legal. It was just in 2018 that this became a reality after the case had gone through to the US Supreme Court, which declared unconstitutional the ban on sports betting.
On June 22, 2018, the bill was signed and now sports betting is fully approved, being the state regulations being developed to make sports betting available at the state casinos, something expected to happen in November 2018.
The numbers and formats are already decided though, as the Twin River Tiverton will have a sports kiosk for their customers, while the Twin River in Lincoln will have the full sportsbook, being the technical expertise given by the gaming company IGT.
Curious the way the returns are distributed through 51% to the state, 32% to IGT and just 17% to the casino, meaning that more than 80% revenues are given to other entities. Mobile and online sports betting aren’t currently legal, but the legislators have already expressed their interest in making it legal in a near future.
Gambling in Rhode Island
As seen above, Rhode Island actually has more land-based casinos than some of the states on the map, as the players here have two different land-based casinos to choose from. Players here are lucky as they are able to play in land-based casinos at just 18 and over. The land-based casinos not only welcome players at a young age but they are also able to join in on gaming with table games, slots, keno and much more.
Pari-mutuel betting is also found here. Not only does this state one-up the others with land-based casinos but it also has both horse and dog racing tracks for bets to be made at 18 too! The lottery is a big help for revenue, especially for public school systems. Players can get tickets and play at 18 on games like Wild Money, Million Dollar Raffle, Mega Millions and more.
Curiosity: Online gambling is not legal in Rhode Island, but there has been a debate about an online lottery and its benefits. In January 2018 a bill was made, and even if didn’t get to be voted, with the success of gambling referendums in 2012 and 2016, voting on online gambling will most likely go the same direction.