LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — After three ceremonial first bets Monday afternoon, Rhode Islanders can officially place bets on sporting events at Twin River Casino in Lincoln.
That’s it for now. Bettors have to go to the casino, or the Tiverton location when it opens in December.
Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio wants that to change. He’s pitching a plan so gamblers can make bets on their phone anywhere within the state.
“If you do mobile gaming, people could bet from their house,” Ruggerio said. “Someone could bet from Cranston as long as they’re within the confines of Rhode Island.”
As of today, Rhode Island is the only New England state to offer sports betting. Nationally though, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi, and New Mexico have started gambling this year after a landmark Supreme Court decision paved the way.
Connecticut lawmakers have been considering it. The Massachusetts House Speaker has previously said he is in no rush. The incentives are high though. The Bay State’s gaming commission has estimated sports betting in Massachusetts could bring in $61 million dollars a year.
If Rhode Island’s bordering states enter the game, Ruggerio hopes allowing bets on mobile phones will keep Rhode Island ahead of the curve.
“That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said. “I’m trying to attract the people from Connecticut and Massachusetts to come over the Rhode Island line to bet on the Patriots and Celtics, whomever they choose. We’ll generate the revenue from that.”
Ruggerio said he has discussed the expansion with Governor Gina Raimondo and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, but not at length.