Rhode Island inches closer to online sports betting

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The House of Representatives in Rhode Island has passed a Senate bill (S 37) that will authorise statewide online and mobile wagering. It further requires a signature from Gov. Gina Raimondo, whose 2019 budget deserves credit for the original law.

The bill will allow Twin River to deploy sports betting website and mobile app for eligible bettors anywhere within Rhode Island.

There were no major bumps in the legislative road along the way. The Senate first considered the bill on Feb. 6 and passed an amended version one week later. The measure then charted a similar course through the lower chamber, culminating in a lopsided 64-8 vote on Tuesday.

Despite the support, some lawmakers maintain reservations about the legality of online sports betting under existing statutes.

Rep. Blake Filippi is among the sceptics, and he made a motion to add an intermediate step to the process. His amendment would have asked the RI Supreme Court to opine on the constitutionality of the legislation — specifically on whether online betting constitutes an unlawful “extension of gambling activities.”