Rhode Islanders Can Gamble on Online Casino Games ‘in Some Form’ Beginning on March 1

Rhode Islanders can begin playing legal online casino games “in some form” on March 1. That’s what a spokesman for the regulator told Bonus on Jan. 12.

Online slots and table games are on the overall menu but Paul Grimaldi offered no specifics to Bonus on Jan. 12. Grimaldi is the spokesman for the online casino gambling regulator, the Rhode Island Department of Revenue (RIDOR).

RIDOR’s program development chief told Bonus on Jan. 12:

The online gaming system is due to launch March 1 in some form. We’re not ready to release the name.

However, at least one form of online casino entertainment won’t be available until April. Stakelogic won’t begin offering live dealer streams until at least then.

As for the second part of Grimaldi’s statement, Bonus had asked if the online casino site would be called Bally Casino or be state-branded, like Sportsbook Rhode Island. Providence-based Bally’s Corporation (Bally’s Corporation 10,25 -2,47%) already powers the Rhode Island Lottery‘s online sports betting platform.

Bally’s will also pay a 61% tax rate on online slots and 15.5% on online table games for the privilege of holding that monopoly.

Meanwhile, unlike other states that considered legalizing iGaming in 2023, Rhode Island didn’t have opposition from land-based casinos. That’s because Bally’s also has a monopoly on the retail casinos. It operates the two Rhode Island commercial casinos that generated $688.2 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) during 2022, according to the gambling trade group American Gaming Association (AGA).

Opposition to iGaming bills in other states came from retail casino operators fearing revenue and job losses because they believed gamblers had a set amount of discretionary cash. Opponents used the word “cannibalization” to describe what impact they thought legalizing iGaming would have on retail casino revenue.

Better to Go Live Quickly or With More Games?

On June 20, Gov. Daniel McKee signed the Rhode Island online casino bill into law. That’s when the Ocean State became the seventh online casino jurisdiction. That count excludes Nevada, which only offers online poker.

Rhode Island also became the newest state to authorize legal online casino gambling. On Oct. 19, 2021, Connecticut’s online gambling marketplace launched.

Throughout that time, Bonus News Managing Editor Alex Weldon reported on the developments.

On Jan. 12, Weldon offered his opinion on Rhode Island’s news:

Rhode Islanders will no doubt be excited to hear that Bally’s and the Rhode Island Lottery still expect to launch their site at the earliest possible moment. Whether it’s the best move for the market remains to be seen.

Looking at other states, Pennsylvania online casinos launched with only a few games in 2019 and it seemed to have a lasting negative impact on customer acquisition over the first year. Conversely, Michigan waited to have its ducks in a line and was operating at full capacity almost immediately. Rushing things might turn out to be a mistake if players don’t find what they’re looking for the first time they log on.

That said, we’ll have to see what they bring to market in March. If there’s a sufficiently robust lineup of slots, that might make up for players having to wait a few weeks for the live dealer table games.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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