Rhode Island’s state legislature is preparing to vote on appropriations Bill H7200A on Friday this week which would free up the state to offer legal sports betting at two tribal gaming venues – Twin River and Tiverton. And with governor Gina Raimondo having already budgeted for $23.5m in sports betting revenue, Rhode Island’s ambition to follow Delaware and New Jersey in legalising sports wagers looks like being a mere formality.
But Bill H7200A is not without controversy. In the 15 pages dedicated to gambling there is no provision to implement an integrity fee. In fact, it expressly prohibits the payment of such a fee. It states: “Under no circumstances shall the state or the division pay an integrity fee to any sports league.” Instead, Twin River and Tiverton would be expected to pay all reasonable costs associated with the oversight and review of the operation of sports wagering, rendering them liable to pay for their own integrity policing.
Elsewhere in the Bill, it has been confirmed that the casinos may not take wagers on any collegiate teams. Bettors will be able to place wagers at state video lottery terminals and there is provision for internet and mobile gaming, although such activities would have to take place on site. Data used for Rhode Island sports betting will come from a vendor and not from the leagues.
One key element not contained in the Bill is the level of taxation for sports betting, however it does stipulate that Twin River and Tiverton gaming facilities or any sports wagering vendor must not receive a larger share of sports wagering revenue than the state.