Rhode Island House OKs $9.5B budget, approves sports betting at two casinos in the state

The Rhode Island House of Representatives on Friday approved a $9.6 billion budget proposal that includes a plan to implement sports betting at two casinos in the state.

The House voted 66-7 for the budget, which also asks voters to authorize $250 million in bonds for school construction and includes ab increase in tax credits for movie production companies.

The Senate must still approve the budget.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the budget, a $300 million increase over last year's spending plan, maintains services without broad tax increases.

The House budget kept many of the themes laid out by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo in January. Both budgets included provisions to tap the lucrative sports betting market and to seek bonds for the first phase of an ambitious $1 billion school reconstruction plan.

House leaders said the state finalized the terms of the sports betting deal shortly before deliberations began. Under the deal, gaming company IGT will operate sports betting at two Twin River casinos in the state. Rhode Island would get more than half the revenue.

House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi said Rhode Island's deal is more favorable than recent ones approved in New Jersey and Delaware.

Here's a look at some of the budget's key items:

SPORTS BETTING

Rhode Island moved one step closer to entering the sports betting market opened up by the nation's Supreme Court earlier this year.

The House approved a five-year plan Friday to allow IGT to operate sports betting at casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton. The state would get 51 percent of the revenues from the program, IGT would get 32 percent and Twin River, which owns the casinos, 17 percent. The towns of Lincoln and Tiverton would each receive $100,000 from the state for hosting the betting facilities.

The deal would be effective upon passage.

Lawmakers estimate sports betting could add $23.5 million to the state's coffers. 

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