RI: Legislature Removed In-Person Registration for Bettors

Bettors in Rhode Island may not need to visit a gaming facility to register in-person for an online gaming account, as lawmakers in the state passed a bill to remove that requirement and facilitate the on-boarding of customers. Bill H8097 has been approved by House and Senate, July 16, and was sent to the governor’s desk waiting to be signed into law.

Removing Barriers for Bettors

Mobile sports betting in Rhode Island went live in September 2019, after Twin River Casino in Lincoln launched a sports betting app, but all state residents willing to bet remotely had to register in-person at the casino at first, before being allowed to wager. The sports book at the casino is operated by William Hill, and the mobile app is powered by Information Game Technology (IGT).

The physical registration was seen as a barrier to customer onboarding for sports book operators, and the virus outbreak exacerbated that effect, resulting into significant decline in sports betting revenues. State tax receipts posted a 72% drop year-on-year in May 2020, $163,472 compared to $574,703 for May the year before, as the industry revenues sank nearly 90%, from $14.6 million for May last year to a mere $1.5 million now.

No Physical Registration, Only Physical Presence in the State

The material impact of the virus outbreak prompted revisiting the physical registration requirement and Representative Nicholas Mattiello and Representative Marvin Abney introduced H8097 in July, as an attempt to facilitate the industry and boost tax receipts for the state coffers.

The bill changes the definitions of the term online gaming account from one that is established in-person on the premises of a hosting facility, to an account used for deposit and withdrawal of funds for sports wagering. Bettors would still have to be physically present in the state to be able to place bets, though.

The bill that would remove the requirement for physical registration for sport bettors was passed through House and Senate a week after it was introduced and transmitted to the desk of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo the next day, July 17, and currently is pending her signature to become law.

Sports betting options in the Rhode Island are not much, as there are only two casino properties in the state, Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Twin River Tiverton Casino in Tiverton, and both properties have sports books operated by William Hill. Online sports betting in the state is overseen by the state’s gambling regulator, the Rhode Island Lottery.

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