House, Senate Advance Rhode Island Sports Betting Remote Registration

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Rhode Island sports betting

Mobile sports betting registration in Rhode Island is a signature away from legalization.

HB 8097 and SB 2919 both hit Gov. Gina Raimondo‘s desk after they overwhelmingly passed their chambers of origin and passed to the governor in concurrence Thursday evening.

The bills strip the requirement for sports bettors to complete the registration process at either of Twin River‘s two casinos in the state.

Make it easier, make more?

Allowing mobile registration could incentivize additional registrations as well, Rep. Marvin Abney, a sponsor of HB 8097, said. There are about 14,000 accounts that haven’t had registration completed at either casino.

Rhode Island’s lottery did not allow the sports betting platform, operated by William Hill through IGT’s technology, to take mobile registrations when mobile sports betting started in August 2019.

That led to some opposition trying to get remote registration passed this time around.

Rhode Island sports betting registration legality in question

There’s a question over whether it’s legal to allow remote registration for sports betting in Rhode Island.

House Minority Leader Rep. Blake Filippi took issue with allowing this bill to move forward. When sports betting was legalized, it was understood that registration had to be completed on-site, he said.

But a legal opinion actually dictated that the gaming, or the server, must only be on-site at the casino, Department of Revenue Head of Legal Services Marilyn McConaghy said during a Finance Committee hearing.

Sen. Samuel Bell also voiced concerns over whether the bill is an expansion of gambling, which requires voter approval.

Weakening state’s chances before Supreme Court?

Filippi is also concerned over showing a potential crack in the state’s legal sports betting because it has been challenged.

Dan Harrop sued to stop sports betting in Rhode Island, saying the referendum that approved it was not clear enough. He had an injunction denied by the Superior Court in June, though Harrop told LSR an appeal is already in the works.

“I know this is currently on its way up to the Supreme Court and I just think we should be cautious about undermining the state’s position in front of the Supreme Court,” Filippi said. He added he has concerns over whether mobile sports betting is constitutional at all.