PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The State Senate in Rhode Island passed mobile sports wagering legislation in a 31-4 vote that would allow bettors to wager anywhere within state borders.

The legislation is RI SB 37 and authorizes sports wagering through a mobile device. This will be done through both Twin River casinos, which have the only two sportsbooks in the state. 

What The Bill Will Do

Bettors in Rhode Island will have to go to one of the casinos and register for an account before they will be allowed to use their mobile device to wager on sports. Afterward, people in Rhode Island can place bets anywhere they want in the state. The bill also helps lay out how much will be taxed on online wagering.

The current tax rate on all profits received on sports betting in Rhode Island is 51 percent. RI SB 37 states that any profit received from the online wagering market will also be taxed at the same rate. The vendors that provide sports betting to the casinos will receive 32 percent and the casinos themselves will receive 17 percent. 

The money that the state is predicting to get goes right into Governor Gina Raimondo’s budget plan for the next fiscal year. She is expecting $3 million in profit for the state from online wagering. Some senators believe there are issues with how the current bill is drafted. 

Unsatisfied With The Bill 

There were some senators who believe that this is an expansion of gambling and it will be challenged by lawsuits because mobile wagering was not passed by a statewide referendum. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, who sponsored the bill, doesn’t believe that a statewide vote is necessary.

“It’s really not an expansion of sports betting, it’s just a different method of wagering,” Ruggerio said.

Senator Sam Bell said that mobile sports wagering should be implemented in a competitive market rather than handing it to the Twin River casinos. He said that otherwise, the operator will have a monopoly on sports wagering in Rhode Island.

“This is America, we are supposed to be a free market economy where we have free market competition,” said Bell. 

DraftKings also chimed in with a similar opinion. The DFS and sports betting operator believes that there should be competition so that customers can shop around for the best betting lines, providing a system of checks and balances.

The DFS website also said that making people go to the casino to sign up will not bring in players who use offshore sportsbooks because they are more convenient for the players. 

Although there were some senators who were unsatisfied with how RI SB 34 implements sports wagering, it passed the Senate by a large margin. It will now go to the House to be voted on after the House finishes a discussion on a similar mobile wagering bill they are working on.

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