Rhode Island Considering Sports Betting for State Budget

by Jim Hall

Rhode IslandRhode Island has included legalized sports betting in their state budget plan.

In states across the US, gambling is used in some form or fashion to offset budget needs. Every state needs a certain amount of money each year to stay in operation, from local programs offered to services by police and fire stations. Millions of dollars are needed each year within each state for daily needs to be met. In Rhode Island, government officials are now looking to legal sports betting options as a way to bring in much-needed funds.

Sports Betting in Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island has a budget plan that includes legal sports betting, despite the fact that sports betting is yet to be legalized on a federal level. According to information on the subject, the Twin River Casino would be offering the sports betting options along with a second casino that is in the proposal stage.

For Rhode Island to be able to offer legalized sports betting, the state constitution requires that voters approve new types of gambling. However, in the state, a piece of companion legislation was created by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio that was already approved by voters, so sports betting would be legal, if it takes place at the Twin River and proposed casino for Tiverton.

Despite there being no need for voter approval based on this measure already having been approved, the state would still need to legalize sports betting within their laws. Also required is that the United States Supreme Court rule that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is unconstitutional, opening up the ability for states to choose if they want to offer sports betting within their borders.

It is unclear as to if SCOTUS will rule in New Jersey’s favor or not. However, states are getting ready by creating and passing legislation that puts laws in place if the option becomes available. If Rhode Island can get the legislation in place, they would be set up to get involved in sports betting depending on the court’s ruling.

Other States in Preparation

Rhode Island is one of many states currently looking at sports betting legislation in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. Take Pennsylvania for example. The state passed a law last year to be ready for sports betting. New York also passed legislation preparing for sports betting, with a law in place to allow the betting option at commercial casinos in the state.

Connecticut is also set up to provide sports betting, with regulations created in 2017. Mississippi took time last year to repeal their ban on sports wagering and regulation efforts are supposedly in the works for this year. Other states looking to create legislation or at least discussing the option are Indiana, West Virginia, Michigan and Minnesota.

By looking at the states considering sports betting, it seems most feel that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of New Jersey. There is no clear-cut decision as of yet and only speculation. However, it would provide a serious boost to the gambling industry of the United States if allowed across the board. Right now, due to PASPA, only four states were grandfathered in to allow sports betting. Of those four states, only Nevada can offer full on sports betting while Delaware is restricted to single wagering.

For now, it will be interesting to watch as these states and others start to look in to or even pass legislation regarding sports betting. A decision is expected by the Supreme Court by summer, so it won’t be long before we know the fate of sports betting in the US.