The process of regulation for online casinos in the US has been a slow and painful one, and while online sports betting is now legal in 38 states, online casinos and poker are lagging far behind, with only six states creating a legal framework for them.
On March 1, Rhode Island will become the seventh state to offer legal online casino games following the igaming expansion bills signed into power last June by Gov. Daniel McKee.
While the first online casino will launch in the Ocean State on March 1, it will take another month before dealer live casino games are offered, while online poker players will have to wait even longer to enjoy playing their favorite game from the comfort of their homes — if it comes at all.
Yet, the wheels are in motion and online gambling will be coming to Rhode Island this year, even if in limited capacity, and another 1.1 million Americans will get the privilege that many others won’t for years to come.
Bally’s Corporation with Gambling Monopoly
As thing currently stand, Bally’s Corporation owns the only two land-based casinos in Rhode Island, Tiverton Casino & Hotel and Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort, which also gives it the absolute monopoly over igaming in the state.
Come March 1, it will be Bally’s who will launch an online casino, presumably under the branding of Bally Casino, and under a license by the Rhode Island Lottery Commission, a division of Rhode Island Department of Revenue that acts as the state’s igaming regulator.
According to Poker Industry PRO, Bally’s Corporation will pay a tax rate of 61% on their online slots revenue, the highest in the country, while table games revenue will be taxed at a rate of 15%.
Table games, however, will only be launched on April 1, as no RNG table games will be allowed in Rhode Island for the time being, and the partnership between Bally’s and Stakelogic (its live dealer partner) is scheduled to begin in April.
That said, it won’t be long before both online slots and table games are deployed at Rhode Island’s first online casino and the residents of the Ocean State get access to some of the best casino games out there.
Online Poker Will Have to Wait
According to the igaming Bills signed into power last year, online poker will be legally allowed in Rhode Island, but there are a couple of problems that will put it on hold, at least for the time being.
Most importantly, the wording of the Bills did not allow for table games with random number generators (RNG) to be offered, and would require online poker to be dealt by live dealers, which is currently not possible through any online poker platform.
Furthermore, Bally’s Corporation, who will hold the state’s only igaming license, does not have an online poker platform of its own and does not appear to be interested in competing in the online poker market.
While it would be possible for Bally’s to enter a partnership with another company like WSOP US and offer poker through their platform, the relatively small population of Rhode Island will likely make online poker a secondary goal for the operator.
While online poker may be offered in Rhode Island in the future, it will require changes to the existing law and Bally’s increased interest, which likely means at least a few years will pass before an online poker platform is actually available in the state.