PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Online casino gaming could soon be coming to the Ocean State.
Bally’s Corporation announced this week it plans to submit a bill asking Rhode Island lawmakers to approve online slots and table games.
The company projects it would generate $210 million in gaming taxes for the state over five years, if slots were taxed at 51% and table games at 18%, which is higher than the industry average.
“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 spokesperson Elizabeth Suever said in a statement.
During a taping of Newsmakers Friday, Senate President Dominick Ruggierio said he’s met with Bally’s and supports the idea.
“I am totally unfamiliar with iGaming or e-gaming, as it’s called, but I think it provides a convenience for the public,” Ruggierio said. “I think people don’t have to go up to either one of the facilities in Rhode Island, they can wager from home.”
Only a handful of states currently permit online gambling, and with Rhode Island poised to consider it, some believe the potential issues need to be addressed as well.
“The easier you make gambling, the more problem gambling you can expect to result,” Providence College accounting professor Patrick Kelly said.
Kelly has been studying casinos and problem gambling for a long time. He said as state lawmakers consider Bally’s proposal, they have an obligation to support problem gambling prevention and treatment programs, like financial literacy training and addiction services.
“We offer help for those people who need help. We have a toll free number, the casino office help to people,” Ruggierio said. “The last thing they want to see is people getting addicted.”
Bally’s hasn’t submitted its specific proposal to lawmakers yet.
A spokesperson told 12 News the company plans to do so when the R.I. General Assembly reconvenes after its February recess.