This past May, a former mayoral candidate in Rhode Island decided to keep his name in the spotlight by suing the state over its plans to introduce mobile sports gambling. Daniel Harrop argued that the state’s plans to introduce sports gambling were unconstitutional and filed his suit to try to prevent further advancement of the activity. As the case makes its way to the state’s Supreme Court today, the future of online sports gambling in Rhode Island might hinge on the outcome of this hearing.
If the court decides that Harrop’s suit has merit, an injunction against sports gambling could be introduced. On the other hand, if the judge, Brian Stern, determine, as many suspect, that Harrop is just using this opportunity as an excuse to try to remain relevant, mobile sports gambling could be introduced within 48 hours after the ruling. Physical sportsbooks will be glued to the news today, as well, since any court decision could also impact their operations.
In speaking with Sports Handle, Rhode Island Department of Revenue Public Information Office Paul Grimaldi asserted, “The plan is to move forward unless the judge gives us some reason us to pause.” If everything moves forward, the Rhode Island Lottery would introduce a soft launch for mobile sports gambling as quickly as possible. The first step of that launch is the inclusion of downloadable documents on the entity’s sportsbetri.com website that are required to be completed and submitted to either the Twin River or Tiverton casino. Those documents contain all the information needed for a bettor to register with the state, a requirement before being able to use a mobile gambling application. The Rhode Island Lottery asserts that it will process and approve the registration the same day it is submitted.
Grimaldi will be sitting by the computer today with his hand firmly grasping the mouse, ready to hit “Send” on a “blast press release” that was drafted to announce the launch. William Hill is just as anxious, ready to launch TV and print ads as soon as possible regarding the operator’s sports gambling readiness.
Rhode Island was the first state in the New England area to approve sports gambling and is still the only one with a live market. Provided everything survives today’s court appearance, straight bets, futures bets, prop bets, parlays, teaser bets and round robin bets will be available by both physical and virtual sportsbooks. Professional and college games are open to wagers, as long as the game doesn’t involve a Rhode Island team playing somewhere in the state.
New Hampshire will most likely be the second state in the area to launch sports gambling. State lawmakers approved sports gambling legislation in July and expect to have the market up and running by sometime early next year.