The state of Rhode Island didn't waste any time in legalizing sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on the industry.
The northeastern state south of Boston became the eighth jurisdiction in the country to allow sports betting at land-based venues in November 2018.
“I’ve waited 40 years for this,” said Senate president Dominick Ruggerio, triggering laughs before he described sports betting as “a great revenue generator” for the state that can support “spending money on renovations of the new schools.”
Even though Rhode Island doesn't have any professional sports teams of its own, the teams up north in Massachusetts have a big influence on the area.
There are only two casinos in Rhode Island currently taking sports bets, but residents have also enjoyed wagering on the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics on top-ranked online sites like Bovada for years.
Rhode Island is the only New England state so far that has passed legislation legalizing sports betting.
Betting Laws in Rhode Island
Just over a million people live in Rhode Island, a state known for sandy shores and seaside Colonial towns. Providence is the state capital and its largest city with about 180,000 residents.
Gambling laws in the Ocean State — whether it's buying a ticket in the Rhode Island Lottery or playing the slot machines at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln — is regulated at the state level.
All legalized gambling in Rhode Island is limited to the following areas:
- Commercial casino gambling
- Tribal casino gambling
- Pari-mutuel wagering
- Daily fantasy betting
- Charitable gambling
The legal age for all forms of gambling in Rhode Island is 18 years old.
Rhode Island is easily the smallest of the 50 U.S. states, but it still has two casinos offering all sorts of entertainment and gambling — Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton.
The Lincoln casino is the larger of the two casinos by far. The property hosts over 4,200 slot machines and more than 100 table games.
The property sits where the old Lincoln Downs racetrack used to be. The Tiverton location, which was purchased in 2015 by the Twin River Management Group, is much smaller with about 1,000 slot machines and table games.
The last live horse racing event in Rhode Island was contested in the 1970s at Lincoln Park Racetrack. Today, pari-mutuel wagering on dogs and horses from venues across the country is available at the two casinos in the state.
Residents can wager on all the betting categories — like win, place, show, exacta and trifecta — on all the Triple Crown and Breeders Cup races in thoroughbred racing. There are daily simulcasts available for avid horse racing players.
In 1974, Rhode Island joined several states, including New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey, in introducing state lotteries. Further referendums brought pull-tab lottery games and bingo to the Ocean State.
The lottery offers daily drawings, scratch tickets, keno, bingo and multi-jurisdictional games like Powerball, Mega Millions, MegaHits and Lucky for Life.
The state lottery, or Rilot as it's often called, is certainly no stranger to big prizes. One lucky winner hit for more than $151 million following the RI Powerball draw in November 2007.
Rhode Island Sports Betting Laws
The U.S. Supreme Court declared a decades-old ban on sports betting unconstitutional in May 2018. Rhode Island was the first state to hold legislative hearings about bringing this form of gambling to its citizens once the opinion was issued.
State lawmakers legalized betting on "all manner of athletic contests, except for those happening in the state or involving Rhode Island-based teams" in late 2018. Shortly thereafter, lawmakers approved an expansion to make sports books available on computers and cellphones statewide.
Today, both casinos in the New England state offer sports betting. The Twin River Casino in Lincoln has a full sports book, while the Tiverton location has a kiosk for placing bets. However, pending lawsuits have delayed the launch of the mobile betting app.
Rhode Island sports books enjoyed their best month in the spring when visitors bet more than $23 million on March Madness. Next to the NFL's Super Bowl, the unpredictable NCAA men's basketball tournament is the biggest draw in sports for gamblers.
While the government continues to work on the legalities of its betting app, Rhode Island residents continue to make future bets on NFL teams and play the money line in leagues like Major League Baseball on top-ranked offshore sites like Bovada. Sign-up is quick and includes a generous welcome bonus to play.
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Rhode Island's Favorite Sports Teams
This whole area of the U.S. is dominated by all things Boston, including the six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The team, which was established in 1959, has also won 11 conference titles.
All four major sports teams from Boston have won numerous championships. The Boston Celtics, who play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference, have won a record 17 NBA titles. The Boston Red Sox, who have been one of the best teams in baseball in recent years, have captured nine World Series titles. The Boston Bruins, one of the Original Six teams in the NHL, have won six Stanley Cups.
Rhode Island is also home to major universities, including an Ivy League School in Brown and the University of Rhode Island, which is located in Kingston.