• Legislators approved mobile betting this past session after voters approved a gambling expansion in 2016.
  • Dr. Daniel Harrop filed a suit against the Rhode Island Lottery, as he claims the voters did not approve sports betting specifically.
  • The preliminary briefings are due to the court by July 28, when the suit will begin its arduous process.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The lawsuit concerning sports betting in Rhode Island is beginning its preliminary discussions not in the courtroom but at the city level.

Giovanni Cicione, the town solicitor for Tiverton, RI, has expressed his desire for the town council to not take a position on the case.

“We were not involved in the suit but the judge decided we were an indispensable party,” said Cicione.

Tiverton is one of the two locations in Rhode Island that hosts a sportsbook in the state – the other being Twin River.

The briefings must be submitted by July 28 to the courts and Cicione has claimed the towns will only respond when the town’s lawyers have deeply reviewed the files. They will likely ask for a month to filter through the paperwork.

Both of the towns are in support of hosting the state’s sportsbooks, as they even receive a $100,000 compensation per year for their accommodations. The towns even asked legislators to raise this amount earlier this year.

“There’s a sense the most efficient way to get this behind us is to agree there’s standing and it should be decided by a judge,” said Cicione.

A Brief Introduction To The Lawsuit

In early May, Dr. Daniel Harrop, a Republican activist, psychiatrist, and former Mayoral candidate of Providence filed the suit against the Rhode Island Lottery. His claim was the 2016 voter referendum that approved a casino expansion did not specify that sports betting would be a game implemented.

Under state laws, voters are required to approve any gaming expansion through a referendum, though the state believes this already occurred with the 2016 measure, which approved Class III gaming.

While sports betting isn’t clearly defined in a specific gaming class, it certainly would be considered Class III, as it is not traditional Indian gaming (Class I) or a game of chance involving a non-banked payout (Class II).

Regardless, both the Tiverton Casino in Tiverton and the Twin River Casino in Lincoln began their sports betting operations in late 2018, despite the legislators’ discussions about potentially needing voter approval.

Legislators even enacted laws to support a mobile sports betting industry, which was expected to launch before football season.

Both of the casinos are still in operation and have been providing RI bettors opportunities to win major cash. Only time will tell how the lawsuit will play out and even if the measure will even make it past the introductory stage.

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