New bill introduced to allow Bally’s to conduct online casino games in Rhode Island
Rhode Island State Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has introduced a new bill to allow Providence-based gaming services provider Bally’s Corporation to conduct online casino games. Bally’s Corporation, a gaming, betting & interactive entertainment company headquartered in the Providence area of Rhode Island, believes that iGaming is needed for its success as Massachusetts’ online sportsbooks and liberalization of online casino gaming in Connecticut in 2021 have hurt its Rhode Island operations.
In the month of February this year, Bally’s launched a campaign to create support for its iGaming or online casino gaming privileges. The company openly warned that disallowing it to conduct online casino games would affect Rhode Island’s subsequent gaming tax allocation.
It is worth-mentioning here that Bally’s Corporation holds a monopoly on casino gambling in Rhode Island. It operates the state’s two brick-&-mortar gaming properties, viz. Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and Bally’s Tiverton.
Agreeing with Bally’s point of view, Senate President Ruggerio and some other lawmakers filed Senate Bill 948 (SB 948) this week to allow the gaming company to conduct online casino games in the state.
After introducing SB 948, Ruggerio said, “Our state casinos provide an important source of revenue to fund vital programs and investments that benefit all Rhode Islanders.”
At present, iGaming or online sports betting with interactive slot machines and table games is legal in merely half a dozen states, viz. Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Revenues generated by sports betting often hit new headlines, but the fact is that sports betting operators generate far less revenue than iGaming platforms. For instance, New Jersey’s sportsbooks generated gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $762.9 million last year, while iGaming revenue amounted to more than $1.66 billion.
In terms of size and population, Rhode Island is the smallest and seventh least-populated state in the U.S. in terms of size. It is home to merely 1.1 million people. State officials are of the view that iGaming could be of great help as it would generate a new stream of tax revenue for the state exchequer. SB 948 proposes a 50 per cent tax on online slot machines and an 18 per cent tax on interactive table games. However, it doesn’t propose a new licensing fee for the operator or its online gaming partners. Preliminary estimates suggest that the state exchequer could get a potential tax windfall of over $100 million per annum.