Rhode Island Moving to Online Sports Betting Registrations, Away From In-Person Sign Ups

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Online sports betting will likely get a lot easier in Rhode Island.

The state’s General Assembly approved a bill that will allow residents to register for sports betting online instead of forcing them to travel to one of the state’s two casinos to register.

Now, the bill heads to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s desk, essentially as a formality.

“This is one responsible move we can make to help counter some of the revenue losses the state has experienced during the pandemic,” bill sponsor Sen. Dominick Ruggerio told WPRI-12 in Providence. “Gaming and the lottery are our state’s third-largest source of revenue, and anything we can safely do to make up for some of the lost revenue helps to support public services.”

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A key reason in-person registration remained intact in Rhode Island was security. But with the COVID-19 pandemic coming along, Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello sought to increase safety for residents and revenue for the state.

Moving to an online registration format has helped a number of other states, including New Hampshire and Colorado as of late, and Rhode Island hopes to find similar success.

“Especially during these times of social distancing, enabling people to register online for sports gaming provides an added convenience that will also enhance revenue for the people of our state,” Ruggerio and Mattiello said in a joint statement earlier this month. “With many team sports ready to resume play shortly, this will provide a safe entertainment option for Rhode Islanders to participate in sports [betting] from their homes.”

While it will certainly help revenue, the bill likely won’t have quite as big of an impact as it would in other states.

Rhode Island sports betting is regulated through the state’s lottery, and it doesn’t have many of the sportsbooks offered by other states.

Both sportsbooks — located at Twin River Casino Hotel in Lincoln and Tiverton Casino Hotel in Tiverton — are powered by William Hill.

Books such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and BetRivers are notably absent from the lineup in Rhode Island.

But the fact the state does have an option for online betting — along with the newly-approved bill — shows things are looking up for the Ocean State.

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