Rhode Island sports betting lawsuit dismissed but the fight is not over.

  • Land-based sports betting in Rhode Island became legal in June of 2018 and mobile betting became legal in March.
  • A state-wide mobile sports wagering app in Rhode Island was launched by the State Lottery on September 4.
  • The lawsuit against legal sports betting in R.I. was dismissed due to the fact that the plaintiff lacked the standing to sue.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A lawsuit aimed at the legality of sports betting in Rhode Island was thrown out by Superior Court Judge Brian Stern on Monday. The dismissal comes due to the fact that the plaintiff was not personally harmed by the legalization of the activity.

The plaintiff was Daniel Harrop, a former Republican mayoral candidate for Providence. He argued that sports betting in Rhode Island was authorized illegally. The state constitution requires gambling expansion to be done so through voter referendum, which in his opinion the legislature did not follow.

The state argued that legal sports betting was authorized in 2012 and in 2016 when voters granted table games and other gambling activities to Twin River Casino properties.

However, the issue of whether or not the state violated the Rhode Island Constitution could not be reached because the court did not believe Harrop had a valid reason to sue as reported by the Providence Journal.

“As our Supreme Court has expressed, the court must avoid the temptation, no matter how interesting a legal issue is, to disregard the [standing] requirement, to distort the role of the judiciary and its relationship to the executive and legislature and revert [to] government by Injunction,” said Stern.

 

“The Implicit rationale behind this rule has its roots in the separation of powers. If a citizen wishes to challenge the action of another branch of government, that person should have an actual stake in the controversy.”

Rhode Island legalized sports betting at its two Twin River Casino properties in June of 2018, and legalized state-wide mobile betting in March. The state launched its sports betting app last week despite being in the midst of this case.

While this lawsuit fell in favor of the state, Harrop’s lawyers plan on revisiting this case with another plaintiff.

“We’ll be back,” said Joseph Larisa Jr. as he was leaving the courtroom on Monday. “We just need to find a sports bettor who lost and wants his money back. So we’ll be doing that, and there is also the Town of Tiverton. We’ll see if they want to make their position a little stronger an become an actual plaintiff.”

Tiverton is one of the two locations in the state which hosts an R.I. sportsbook. In July, Giovanni Cicione, the town solicitor for Tiverton, disclosed that he did not want the town council to take a position in the case.

Whether or not they do take a stance the next time around is yet to be determined. In the meantime, sports betting in Rhode Island will continue to operate as normal.

“With the launch of mobile betting just last week, we look forward to continuing to grow this revenue source and offer Rhode Islanders a fun and convenient gaming experience,” wrote Joseph Block, a spokesman for Gov. Gina Raimondo to the Providence Journal.

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