Online Poker and Legal Gambling in Rhode Island
2021 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Rhode Island?
There’s still no online poker regulation in Rhode Island, but there is online gaming progress. In the last few years, Rhode Island implemented sports betting, online sports betting and online lottery sales. The Twin Rivers Casino in Rhode Island quickly offered sports betting after the Supreme Court paved the way in 2018.
A state budget legalized sports betting and Gov. Gina Raimondo signed it into law. In 2019, it was expanded to allow online sports betting and then the Rhode Island lottery launched iLottery. This let Rhode Island residents play keno and lottery games online. There’s still no formal moves on online poker in Rhode Island, but it seems like the state isn’t opposed to expanding gaming.
We’ll keep you updated on that front.
Online Poker and the Law in Rhode Island
Rhode Island is a tiny state. By landmass, it’s the smallest. The population is small too, but the state offers its residents a few gaming options. There’s a lottery and race tracks, as well sports betting and charitable gaming. It doesn’t have any commercial casinos though, and unlike neighboring states, there are now tribal casinos either.
Gambling is covered in the Rhode Island state statutes. Section 11-19-1 discusses lays out what’s illegal:
“Every person who shall, directly or indirectly, set up, put forth, carry on, promote, or draw, publicly or privately, any lottery, chance, game, or device of any nature or kind whatsoever, or by whatsoever name it may be called, for the purpose of exposing, setting for sale or disposing of any money, houses, lands, merchandise, or articles of value.”
The statute also defines “gambling.” Section 11-51-1 states:
“Includes, but is not limited to, pool-selling, bookmaking, maintaining slot-machines, roulette wheels or dice tables, and conducting lotteries, Policy, Bolita, or numbers games or selling chances in them.”
“Chance” is the keyword in both of these definitions. It’s a common legal term used in state statutes around the country. In 2012 a federal judge ruled that poker is a game of skill, not chance. This is what gave states legal cover to start regulating online poker. States that use “chance” are more likely to regulate online poker.
Can I Play Poker on PokerStars in Rhode Island?
If you’re a Rhode Islander residing in Rhode Island, then no, you can’t play poker on PokerStars. If you drive down to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, then you’ll be able to play on PokerStars there. Those are state-specific PokerStars rooms though, so the player pools aren’t the same as before 2011, when PokerStars accepted players from all across the US.
Luckily, there are sites that accept players from all 50 states and have become great PokerStars alternatives. Ignition Poker and Americas Cardroom both take players from across the US. So if you’re looking for some online poker in Rhode Island, check out those sites or the many others we’ve reviewed below:
Legal Gambling in Rhode Island
Rhode has two racinos and allow the following types of legal gambling:
- State Lottery
- Pari-mutuel Wagering
- Charitable Gaming
The lottery in Rhode Island began in May 1974. It’s a charter member of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). Their games include Mega Millions, Powerball, Wild Money, keno, and scratch tickets. You must be 18 years of age or older in order to play. You can now play online too. Check the Rhode Island’s State Lottery website for more info.
There used to be horse tracks in Rhode Island, but those are now in the state’s history. Rhode Island does have two pari-mutuel facilities though. The facilities have publicly-run video lottery terminals, with distributions of revenue to operators. The current tax rate is 27.53% of gross gaming revenues.
The Rhode Island General Assembly charged the Division of State Police with the regulatory enforcement of all charitable gaming except bingo in 1979. Then they added Bingo in 1983. Now Rhode Islanders can play raffles, bazaars, and bingo for charity.
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