Rhode Island might not be the worst state in the country in terms of gambling freedom but it’s far from being the best. To their credit, they’ve moved quickly to add sports betting to their offerings but the bad news is that it will be on such a limited basis that it’s almost pointless. The first form of legal gambling in the state of Rhode Island was parimutuel betting on horses and greyhound racing. Unfortunately, neither sport could survive in Rhode Island due in large part to the usurious taxation levels imposed on them by state government. Narragansett Park opened in 1934 and for many years was a very significant thoroughbred racing venue.
Among other notable distinctions, it was where the legendary Seabiscuit broke his maiden. The track would start a long decline in the early 1960’s and would hold its last live meet in 1978. Lincoln Greyhound Park would close at the end of their 2018 meet.
In 1973, the Rhode Island Lottery began and quickly became a financial success. It was a pioneer in the use of television becoming the first state to hold a weekly televised draw starting in 1975. Today, all gambling in the state of Rhode Island is under the auspices of the lottery. This includes all charitable gambling (eg: bingo) and all gaming at the state’s two casinos. The two casinos are Twin River’s Tiverton Casino Hotel and the Twin River Casino in Lincoln. The Tiverton Casino opened in early September and coincided with the closure of the Newport Grand slots parlor. At one point, Newport Grand was a jai alai fronton and was renovated into a slots parlor in 2008. Twin River Management transferred the Newport Grand gaming license to the new property at Tiverton. Both casino properties offer a mix of slots and table games but oddly enough there is no live poker offered there or anywhere else in Rhode Island. There is also no legal provision for social games or charitable games meaning that technically Rhode Island is a state without poker.
As noted above, sports betting is also coming to Rhode Island’s two casinos. The current state budget included language allowing sports betting but only on site at the aforementioned two casino properties. As the law is currently written, there is no provision for online gambling. Both of the properties will have IGT run their sports betting operations.