Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corporation has successfully convinced several of the state’s most powerful lawmakers into supporting the legalization of iGaming.
A roulette table at Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort in Rhode Island. Bally’s is seeking online casino privileges in Rhode Island, and several key lawmakers are on board. (Image: Bally’s Corporation)
Citing concerns that the emergence of online sports betting in neighboring Massachusetts will cut into Rhode Island’s online sports betting revenue and the state’s subsequent gaming tax allocation, Bally’s in February began campaigning for online casino privileges. The company, which holds a monopoly on casino gambling in the state, operates Rhode Island’s two brick-and-mortar casinos, Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and Bally’s Tiverton.
Bally’s officials told state lawmakers that Massachusetts’ online sportsbooks, which opened in March, and the 2021 liberalization of online casino gaming in Connecticut, are hurting the company’s Rhode Island operations. For the state to sustain and grow its annual gaming taxes, Bally’s contends iGaming is needed.
State Senate President Dominick Ruggerio agrees. Ruggerio, along with six co-sponsors, filed Senate Bill 948 this week to allow Bally’s to conduct online casino games.
Our state casinos provide an important source of revenue to fund vital programs and investments that benefit all Rhode Islanders,” Ruggerio said after introducing the expanded gambling measure.
Currently, iGaming with interactive slot machines and table games is legal in only six states: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Michigan.
Sports betting might get most of the gaming industry headlines, but oddsmakers generate far less revenue than do iGaming platforms. In New Jersey, for instance, sportsbooks generated gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $762.9 million in 2022. Online casino revenue totaled more than $1.66 billion.
Though Rhode Island is the smallest state in terms of size, and the seventh least populated with just 1.1 million residents, state officials say iGaming would provide a large tax benefit. Legal internet casinos, state leaders believe, could result in a potential tax windfall of more than $100 million annually.
SB948 proposes a 50% tax on online slot machines and an 18% tax on interactive table games. The legislation doesn’t propose a licensing fee for Bally’s or its online gaming partners.
Ruggerio’s bill has been referred to the Senate Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs Committee for initial consideration.
Committed to Rhode Island
Bally’s this week showed off its recent renovations and expansion of its Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort.
As part of the company’s pledge to invest $100 million into its two state casinos in exchange for Rhode Island lawmakers extending its casino monopoly by 20 years, the $60 million Twin Rivers overhaul resulted in 40,000 square feet of additional gaming space. The Lincoln investment additionally included a 14,000-square-foot Korean day spa.
Bally’s officials aren’t concerned that retail patrons might move online should iGaming become legal. The company says the liberalization of online casinos in other states has only grown revenue overall.
Bally’s operates iGaming in New Jersey through its Atlantic City casino, and in Delaware through its Bally’s Dover Casino Resort.
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