Rhode Island becomes seventh US state to launch igaming

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Bally’s customers will be allowed to play slots and table games in the state via desktop or an iOS mobile app. About 170 slot games will be available initially to players who are at least 21 years old and have an online or mobile account with Bally’s.

The public launch of the online gaming product follows a four-day technical trial that started on Friday.

Live table games supplier Stakelogic is supporting the launch with its live dealer and table games software and studio technology.

Competitive industry for Rhode Island

Senate president Dominick Ruggerio said that “igaming will ensure that Rhode Island remains at the forefront of the competitive gaming industry.”

Rhode Island became the seventh US state to pass the required legislation on 22 June 2023. Signed into law by state governor Dan McKee, Senate Bill 948 effectively extended Bally’s land-based casino monopoly into igaming.

However, despite the competitive element – igaming in the state will in effect be a monopoly. In 2021, state legislators voted to approve a law that provided Bally’s and its IGT gaming supplier a 20-year no-bid contract to run both the land-based casinos in the state: Bally’s Twin Rivers Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel.

The law extends the current Bally’s monopoly over casinos in the state to igaming, meaning that the company’s online arm Gamesys would be the sole operator active in the state. The business operates under a number of brands including Virgin Casino, Tropicana Casino and Rainbow Riches Casino.

The law imposes a 50% tax on online slot revenue with the remainder divided between Bally’s and IGT. Meanwhile table games are to face a lesser 18% revenue tax.

To support the igaming launch, Bally’s constructed a 4,000-square-foot Live Dealer Table Games studio at Twin Rivers.

Rhode Island regulation

Igaming is to be regulated in the state by the Rhode Island Division of the Lottery. The division currently oversees the two Bally’s casinos in the state. The activity will therefore be under the purview of the organisation’s director, Mark Furcolo.

The text of the law empowers the director to develop “reasonable” rules and regulations for igaming in the state.

The law states that geolocation technology will be used to ensure that a player is physically in the state. However, it also outlines certain circumstances when a player is permitted to bet out of state. The law allows this to take place when the RI Division of the Lottery has entered into a reciprocal agreement with another state regulator.

Falling figures for sports betting

Given Rhode Island’s monthly earnings reports for sports betting, the launch could be timely. Rhode Island recorded $44.8m in sports betting handle for January, down from $47.9m in December and the lowest since September. Handle also fell 28.1% in comparison with the same month last year.

Rhode Island is now into the second half of its 2024 financial year. In total, handle has declined from $332.8m to $267.2m year-on-year for the first seven months of the financial year.

Last month, Bally’s said growth within its interactive igaming business helped drive revenue up by 8.6% to $2.45bn in 2023. Interactive revenue in North America alone rocketed by 37.8% to $112.6m for the year, as igaming continues to grow in popularity.

Igaming is currently only legal in six states aside from Rhode Island. These are New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Connecticut.

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