Rhode Island Senate Approves Bill Doubling Credit Line Maximum at Bally’s Casinos

The Rhode Island Senate has passed Senate Bill 3040, which would increase the cap on lines of credit at the state’s two retail casinos, Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and Bally’s Tiverton. The vote passed by a margin of 28-5. Under current law, the two casinos can allow patrons to gamble up to $50,000 on credit, provided they pass a background check on their income, credit history, and gaming habits. SB3040 would double that limit to $100,000.

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio co-sponsored SB3040. He says the increase will help Bally’s compete with casinos in neighboring states. Massachusetts and Connecticut both allow their casinos to extend lines of credit and, unlike Rhode Island, do not have borrowing limits.

The bill must still pass the House and receive the Governor’s signature to become law. The House Finance Committee has already advanced it to the House floor with a recommendation that it pass.

Bally’s launched Rhode Island’s first and only online casino in March. However, SB 3040 wouldn’t affect iGaming in the state. Bally Casino accepts credit card deposits but cannot directly extend credit to its players. That would not change under the proposed law.

Bally’s holds a monopoly on both retail and online casino gambling in Rhode Island. However, its online casino has gotten off to a slow start, with revenue falling well short of forecasts in its first two months.

Opponents Raise Problem Gambling Concerns

Unsurprisingly, the bill has faced opposition from those who see it as facilitating problem gambling. Sen. Sam Bell, one of the five Senators who voted against it, expressed his concerns:

This is bad — going into debt from gambling is dangerous. We should not maximize profit when it comes to an addictive product.

Patrick Kelly, a Providence College accountancy professor who studies gambling, told the Rhode Island Current that raising the limit to $100,000 could lead to people chasing losses and contribute to problem gambling.

Kelly said he was particularly concerned about Baby Boomers. According to him, they are the most likely demographic to qualify for an extended line of credit due to their financial stability. He fears that Boomers with gambling problems might mortgage their homes or dip into their 401ks or pensions. He suggested that instead of raising the limit, the state should lower it to $25,000 to promote responsible gambling.

Casinos rely heavily on “whales”—their top-spending VIPs—for revenue. The amounts such players can sometimes lose tend to attract the attention of responsible gambling advocates. On the other hand, some in the industry say that the problems are more likely to occur for the next-lower tier of gamblers, who don’t receive the same scrutiny as the top spenders and might be less equipped to afford their losses.

Rhode Island Lottery Among SB3040’s Critics

The Rhode Island Lottery, which oversees lottery and gaming rules and regulations, also expressed its opposition to the bill during its June 4 meeting. Lottery Director Mark Furcolo objected to a provision permitting Bally’s to negotiate a new debt policy with the state’s Division of Lottery and the Department of Business Regulation.

Furcolo’s main concern was that gambling regulators would have to accept the “methodology for calculating restrictions and limitations used in other Bally’s debt agreements.” Bally’s had previously said that renegotiating with the state would enable the company to secure additional credit needed to complete its Bally’s Chicago project. The company’s $1.9 billion flagship project, planned to open in 2026, is facing a tight timeline. Bally’s has said it still needs to raise $800 million to complete construction.

Sen. Frank Ciccone III, the bill’s other co-sponsor, had introduced an amendment to remove the debt agreement clause. However, that amendment didn’t make it into the final bill, which still allows changes in how the debt ratio is calculated.

Colorado Nixed Lines of Credit for Casinos

Rhode Island isn’t the only state looking at changing its casino credit policy. Concerns over problem gambling were the primary reason Colorado Governor Jared Polis vetoed a credit line bill last year. Unlike Rh de Island, lines of credit at Colorado casinos are currently illegal. The bill would have allowed casino players to establish lines of credit with a $1,000 minimum and no maximum. As in Rhode Island, proponents claimed it would help the state’s casino industry stay competitive with neighboring markets—meaning Nevada, in Colorado’s case—and promote tourism.

However, Gov. Polis did not see it that way. He expressed concerns the proposal would intensify problem gambling in the state. The governor added that high-rollers are not immune to gambling addictions and stressed his commitment to protecting Coloradans’ financial stability. He also questioned whether people struggling with gambling addiction can truly provide informed consent to such transactions.

About the Author

Chav Vasilev

Chav Vasilev

After years of managing fast-casual restaurants, Chav turned his passion for sports and occasional slot wins into a career as an iGaming writer. Sharing his time between Europe and the US, he has been exposed to betting and gambling for years and has closely followed the growth in the US. Chav is a proponent of playing responsibly and playing only at legal online sites. When not writing, you will find him watching and betting on sports, especially soccer, or trying to land the next big bonus on a slot.
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