The proposed legislation would allow the RI Division of Lotteries to authorize online slots and table games by Bally's properties in Rhode Island, including Bally's Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally's Tiverton Casino & Hotel. The State would receive a percentage of all online slots and table games revenue.
Casino-entertainment giant Bally’s Corporation announced Wednesday that it will seek legislative and executive branch approval in Rhode Island for the introductions of online casino gaming at this session of the General Assembly. The company claims the expansion would boost state revenues and, over the long term, better position Rhode Island casinos in New England’s competitive gaming market.
The effective date of the bill is January 1, 2024, subject to the finalization of relevant regulations. Bally's plans were announced Wednesday afternoon at the 2023 Rhode Island Legislative Leadership Luncheon, hosted by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
Elizabeth Suever, Vice President of Government Relations for Bally's Corporation, said: "We intend to model this after the legislation used to establish online sports betting in Rhode Island, effectively giving the State complete regulatory control and the ability to ensure the integrity of the program, while maximizing revenue for the State."
Bally's commissioned an iGaming study conducted by Spectrum Gaming, in preparation for a statewide discussion about online casino gaming. According to the operator, it highlights "some of the merits of the proposed legislation":
an estimated $93.3 million of gross gaming revenue in the first year
Little to no switching of play from retail casinos to online casino gaming is expected , preserving retail casino revenues paid to the State. This could generate potential gaming taxes for the State of Rhode Island of $210 million over a five-year period.
Other provisions of the legislation may include Online slot and table gaming wagers would only be accepted from players who are confirmed to be physically present in Rhode Island at the time of their bet. The server-based gaming system used to process wagers would be located in a restricted area on the casinos' premises. The State would retain the authority to set terms and conditions for online slots and table gaming, including all procedures for responsible gaming, system integrity, security, operations, and accounting. "We see this as a vital step to secure our competitive advantage and ensure critical revenue to the state," Bally's Senior Vice President Craig Eaton told political and business leaders Wednesday, as per The Providence Journal.
"Despite area competition, which is growing to our north and to our southwest in Connecticut, we know we have to keep improving our products and experiences," he added. "We can't sit still, and we need to meet our customers where they are."