Rhode Island Sports Betting

In 2018, Rhode Island emerged as the eighth state to introduce sports betting following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn PASPA, a Federal statute that had effectively prohibited sports betting nationwide. By 2019, state legislators had broadened the regulations to encompass 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)

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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.

Bordering States

Massachusetts | New York | Connecticut


Can I Bet In Rhode Island with an Offshore Sportsbook?

An offshore sportsbook is a betting agency that operates out of the US but allows bets to be placed by people from within the US. These offshore sportsbooks operate in several countries. In the US, offshore sportsbook agencies are not legal because they are not overseen by US regulatory agencies.

That means that in Rhode Island, you technically are not allowed to bet on sports using an offshore sportsbook. However, millions of people every year still do bet in offshore sportsbooks without interference from the US government. The reason why is because, although they are technically not legal, states and regulatory agencies cannot punish offshore sportsbook agencies as they do not operate within the borders of the US.

There are several legitimate offshore sportsbooks and there are several unreputable scam sportsbooks. In general, the best offshore sportsbooks to go with are the older more established firms. You should try to avoid any new organizations that have not had time to build a reputation for themselves.

If you decide to place sports bets using an offshore sportsbook make sure that you do your research to find a legitimate site that will not scam you out of your money. Alternatively, you could try one of the several regulated online sportsbooks based out of the USA. Gambling through a regulated sportsbook offers a level of security and protection from bad actors.

Can I bet in Rhode Island, Daily Fantasy Sports Betting?

Rhode Island was actually one of the first states to legalize daily fantasy sports betting back in 2016. The state Attorney General’s office reasoned that, since daily fantasy sports betting consists of an equal amount of luck and skill, the practice was legal under that state’s constitution.

However, the Rhode Island state legislature has yet to pass any specific regulations regarding daily fantasy sports betting. As such, Rhode Island residents are more or less free to engage in daily fantasy sports betting without hindrance, provided that their actions do not run afoul any other piece of gambling regulations in Rhode Island, such as the restriction on betting on events in which a Rhode Island collegiate team is playing.

What Sports Can I Bet on in Rhode Island?

As of 2020, Rhode Island residents can bet on virtually any sporting event from common staples like basketball, baseball, and football, to more uncommon sports like cricket and squash. There are no general rules defining which sports are allowed and which are not, so it is assumed that any sport is fair game for gambling in Rhode Island.

That being said, the most common sports teams that people in Rhode Island place bets on are the New England Patriots, the Boston Celtics, the Red Sox, and the Bruins. Rhode Island is a somewhat unique case as the state only has about 1 million people and does not have any professional sports teams.  There are a handful of minor league and semi-pro sports teams in the state, such as the Rhode Island Reds soccer team and the Providence Bruins hockey team.

Is sports betting legal in Rhode Island?

Yes, as of 2018, sports betting is 100% legal in Rhode Island. Rhode Island residents are allowed to bet on all professional, collegiate, and international sports, except for sporting events that feature a Rhode Island collegiate team.

How old do you have to be to bet on sports in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island law requires that all sports gamblers must be at least 18 years old. Before registering at a casino, you will have to provide proof that you are at least 18. You do not have to live in the state to gamble in the state.

Is betting on horse racing legal in Rhode Island?

Yes, betting on horse races is completely legal in Rhode Island. However, the state has not offered live horse races in nearly 4 decades. Ironically, Rhode Island used to be one of the top states for horse racing in the past. The famous racehorse Seabiscuit won his first race in Narragansett Park, RI in 1935.

Who regulates sports betting in Rhode Island?

The Rhode Island Lottery is in charge of the regulation and oversight of all sportsbook agencies in the state. Currently, there is only one legal sport betting website in Rhode Island.