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Challenges still loom as Rhode Island legalises sports betting

US betting law

US betting law
The small eastern state of Rhode Island has legalised sports betting.

That makes them the third American state to do so, following both Delaware and New Jersey.

Land-based casinos in two small cities will be able to take in bets manually. However, online betting is currently off the table in Rhode Island, pending future developments.

That will limit the volume of sports betting that will take place in the state. Furthermore, high fees that favor the state of Rhode Island instead of the service providers will probably curb enthusiasm in bookmaking as well.

Dominick Ruggerio, Rhode Island’s Senate President, said that the high fees will favour the state. With 51% of wagers going to the Rhode Island government, Ruggerio remarked that “Rhode Island taxpayers will be receiving the highest percentage of revenue in the nation from sports wagering.”

He added that these wagers would “provide revenue for critical state services while offering a new entertainment option for Rhode Islanders.

But Ryan Butler, writing at, remarked that the fees “may actually deter gaming operators and partners.”

With the government taking so much, what will be the incentive for private parties to get involved?

If gaming operators and partners feel the pinch from government fees, they will have to try to recover costs from their customers. That, in turn, can lead to shorter odds and minimised payouts on winning bets. If all the hands in the sports-betting cookie jar lead to bad odds, as the casinos try to minimise payouts for winning bets, then that, in turn, could hurt right at the grassroots level.

It will be interesting to see how betting odds on sporting events at the Rhode Island casinos compare to established online sportsbooks. While Rhode Islanders may not have an online option, many gamblers will still be able to research odds to ensure that the ones the land-based casinos offer are in the right ballpark.

Legalization in Rhode Island could go for not if Joe Public looks at the betting odds and doesn’t think they are fair. As the case in any industry in market capitalism, competition may be necessary.

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