Bally’s throws its weight behind Rhode Island igaming legalization push
Providence-headquartered operator to use legislative muscle to file bill legalizing online gambling and gaming
Bally’s Corporation has confirmed it plans to push for the legalization of igaming in Rhode Island, during the current General Assembly session.
At a luncheon at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Providence-headquartered operator revealed the news, suggesting a legalized igaming market would aid the state’s land-based casinos while also increasing state revenue.
While details of the push have not been provided, it is understood the company is working together with local representatives to draft legislation which would entrust licensing to the Rhode Island Division of Lotteries.
Online slots and table-based games are slated to be included among those verticals cited in the legislation, with the state receiving a percentage of revenue.
Other parts of the legislation include a requirement for geolocation technology to ensure players are based in the state, as well as a requirement that all servers be located in a restricted area on casino premises.
The Division of Lotteries would be responsible for setting regulations including standards for responsible gambling, system requirements, as well as integrity, operations, and accounting protocols.
The legislation would take effect on January 1, 2024.
In preparation for the push, Bally’s commissioned a study conducted by Spectrum Gaming, which suggests that the state could generate an estimate gross gambling revenue of $93.3m during the first year of operation rising to an estimated $130.6m by year five.
The study also suggests there would be no cannibalization of retail casino from the legalization of online casino, with the state potentially generating $210m in taxes over a five-year period.
Bally’s operates a number of properties in the Ocean State, including Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel.
In comments reported by the GoLocal Providence website, Bally’s VP of government relations Elizabeth Suever outlined the firm’s expectations.
“We intend to model this after the legislation used to establish online sports betting in Rhode Island, effectively giving the state complete regulatory control and the ability to ensure the integrity of the program, while maximizing revenue for the state,” Suever said.
Rhode Island launched online sports betting in 2019 and has one of the highest taxation rates for the vertical in the US at 51% of operator gross gambling revenue.
Bally’s is coming off a tough period in the US, with the operator’s incoming CEO Robeson Reeves branding its North America Interactive 2022 financial results as “unacceptable” in a recent statement.
The firm has also recently culled 15% of its US workforce, as part of measures designed to bring Bally’s back into profitability.