Rhode Island only introduced sports gambling to the state last November, but it has already begun to show considerable signs of life. Now, legislators are hoping to capitalize on its success and take the activity to the next level. A high-ranking senate lawmaker has introduced a bill that could pave the way for mobile sports wagers.
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio believes that sports gambling is going to be a boom to the state’s economy. Rightfully so, as operators must give 51% of their revenue to the state’s coffers. Ruggerio asserts that expanding the market to mobile platforms will make the activity more convenient and help the state earn even more revenue.
When the state legalized sports gambling last year, the Twin River Casino in Lincoln became the first to offer the option. The lawmaker’s bill wants to allow for the creation of an app that would allow anyone in the state to place wagers on sporting events from anywhere in the state. However, it adds that the individuals would first need to create an account in person at the Lincoln facility or at the casino in Tiverton in order to verify the gambler’s age.
Ruggerio said in a statement, “The new, in-person sportsbook that opened in November has been very popular, with lines stretching out the doors. It is an entertainment option that many Rhode Islanders enjoy, and visitors from outside the state are also flocking to our gaming facilities to place their wagers on sporting events.
“Expanding to mobile gaming would provide a convenient option for those wishing to enjoy this form of entertainment, and open up the economic benefits beyond the walls of Twin River. I can envision a group of friends from out-of-state spending an evening out in a local establishment where they can both watch the game and place a wager.”
Technically, any sports gambling expansion in the state would require a vote by the residents. However, the bill is hoping it has found a loophole and states, “The server-based gaming system and all hardware, software, and other technology or equipment located on a hosting facility’s premises and used to conduct online sports wagering shall be located in a restricted area on the hosting facility’s premises.”
Of course, the mobile app may never make it past its initial draft. Depending on how the U.S. Department of Justice ultimate decides on the Federal Wire Act, a mobile gambling app could be in violation of federal laws.