Back in 2018, Rhode Island became the 8th state to offer sports betting after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, a Federal law that essentially outlawed sports betting across the US. In 2019 state lawmakers expanded provisions to include online and mobile betting.
These original provisions for online and mobile betting had one major limitation though; bettors had to register for mobile betting in-person at a casino. In early 2020, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo passed two new pieces of legislation. The two bills now allow mobile bettors in Rhode Island to register for sports betting without having to go to a casino in person.
These new provisions in laws are expected to lead to thousands more people betting on sports in Rhode Island.
In the state of Rhode Island we anticipate an amount of $17.2m to be wagered in the year 2020 (as per H2 Gambling Capital, H2GC.com)
Top 3 Rhode Island Sports Betting Sites
Legality of Sports Betting in Rhode Island
First off, we should mention that we are not lawyers or legal experts. Thus, our analysis of the legality of sports betting in Rhode Island is meant to be guidelines, not the final word. If you have more in-depth questions about the legality of sports betting in Rhode Island, consider seeking professional advice.
First, we will cover federal laws about sports betting, then talk about Rhode Island sports betting legislation specifically.
US Federal Gambling Laws
The entire point of federal and state gambling laws is to prevent organized crime from funneling dirty money through gambling rackets. Because they deal primarily with cash, sportsbooks have historically been a major method for criminal organizations to wash dirty money.
So, in 1970 the Nixon administration passed the Organized Crime Control Act, which effectively outlawed the creation of gambling organizations composed of more than 5 people that accumulate more than $2,000 a day. This legislation came shortly after the 1961 Wire Act which made illegal using interstate wire communications to coordinate information for sports betting.
In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed in an effort to prevent corruption and organizations from intentionally influencing the outcome of sporting events. With a handful of exceptions (Nevada being the most notable), PAPSA effectively prohibited amateur and professional sports bookmakers in all states in the US. (Please note that it was the sports bookmakers that were prohibited by law and NOT the act of sports betting).
In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) came into force. As a result of the popularity of the online poker boom, the law was designed to reduce the flow of money to offshore online poker sites. And thus it was illegal for US banks to facilitate transactions with knownoffshore sports books, online poker sites and online casinos. This law did not make it illegal for US citizens to place sports bets but made it more difficult for banks and offshore gambling agencies to transfer funds. However, all of this changed in 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck down PAPSA. The Supreme Court ruled that PAPSA violated the 10th amendment and the law was nullified. The removal of PAPSA opened the doors for individual states to dictate their own laws surrounding sports betting.
Rhode Island Sports Betting Laws
In 2018 Rhode Island became the 8th state in the union to pass laws explicitly allowing sports betting. In 2018, this legislation was extended to include online and mobile betting but required in-person registration at a casino. At the time, Rhode Island was only the third state to have such an in-person registration requirement. In 2020, new rules allowed bettors to register for sports betting without registering in-person at a casino.
This means that any person that is within the borders of Rhode Island can place bets on professional, collegiate, and international sporting events. The only legal requirement in the state is that you are at least 18 years old. You do not actually have to live in the state, you just have to be within its borders when you place bets.
There is one major restriction on sports betting in Rhode Island. You are not allowed to bet on collegiate sports or athletic events in which Rhode Island college teams participate, even if they are not in the state. In other words, you can’t make sports bets on college teams from Rhode Island. Apart from this one limitation, those 18 and up in the state borders of Rhode Island can bet on professional, collegiate, and international sporting events.
In regards to sports betting organizations, Rhode Island requires sports betting organizations to be regulated by the state, which significantly reduces the ability to bet using offshore bookers.
Please note: It is NOT illegal to place a bet with an offshore booking agency that is not regulated by the state and you will not be punished for doing so. But there is no guarantee that you will be paid out your winnings.
In general, laws surrounding gambling in US states are usually not meant to penalize the individual. Instead, they are meant to keep a leash on betting agencies to make sure they are not doing anything unscrupulous with their money.