The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the New Jersey sports betting case back in December. The court could issue its ruling as soon as March or as late as June. Nonetheless, a growing number of states are already preparing in the event of a favorable ruling. Rhode Island is one of several states that seem to believe the outcome of the case is a foregone conclusion. The state appears to be fast-tracking sports betting legislation. Its widely believed that New Jersey is a favorite to prevail. That is an outcome that could open up legal sports betting across the US. However, its not the lock some would like you to believe. Where theres smoke theres fire The first inkling that sports betting was on Rhode Islands radar occurred during a local television interview with State Senator William Conley in December. Absolutely, I do think that the Senate president thinks that thats [sports betting/online gambling] something that we should look at seriously, and that it will bring in revenue, Conley said. GoLocal later reported that Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo already conducted polling on sports betting/online gambling: Latest developments And now, Rhode Island has a sports betting bill, and a Governor that seems very open to the idea. Five members of the Rhode Island State Senate introduced a bill, S 2045, that would authorize sports betting at the Twin River and Tiverton casinos. According to the Providence Journal, a voter referendum would not be needed if sports betting is limited to the states existing gaming establishments. The bill summary reads: In addition to the bill, Raimondo has gone so far as to include $23.5 million of nonessential revenue from sports betting in her budget. Rhode Islands budget woes As Play MA has reported, Rhode Island is facing a $60 million shortfall for the current fiscal year. Additionally, the deficit is projected to jump to more than $230 million in the upcoming fiscal year. Revenue from sports betting, and possibly online gambling, would go a long way towards plugging the budget shortfall.
Previous reports have Rhode Island looking into sports betting and possibly online gaming in 2018. We can now add online lottery to the mix too. According to the Providence Journal, Rhode Island State Representative Charlene Lima plans to introduce a bill on Thursday that would authorize the lottery to sell instant win tickets online. Per the Providence Journal, Lima remarked: What the lottery bill might authorize At this time, no details of the bill have emerged. However, Lima told the Providence Journal the bill is modeled on the online lottery legislation passed in New Hampshire in 2017. If Limas forthcoming bill is based on New Hampshires legislation, it would allow the sale of instant win games as well as draw games both online and through mobile apps. Some of the other provisions in the New Hampshire law that could find their way into Rhode Islands bill are:
Age verification, including in-person registration at a brick and mortar lottery retailer.
Only those physically located within the states borders can purchase online lottery tickets.
The setting of daily, weekly, and monthly wager limits.
The creation of a voluntary self-exclusion program for players. A couple unanswered questions Is Rhode Island ready to debate the issue? The legislation will likely have an uphill climb in the legislature, at least in 2018. Online lottery is a new issue for the state. That means lawmakers and state officials will need to be brought up to speed on a number fronts:
Technology to offer and regulate the games
Researching other online lottery markets
Possible impact on existing lottery sales This could be a big problem, considering Lottery spokesman Paul Grimaldi told the Providence Journal it hasnt explored offering online scratch tickets. Will online lotteries require a Constitutional amendment? The legislation could run into another snag. Namely that the Rhode Island constitution requires a statewide voter referendum to expand gambling. Whether or not online lottery needs a referendum depends on how expansion of gambling is defined. Rhode Island is trying to legalize sports betting without a constitutional amendment by offering it at existing casinos. The argument is its just a new game in the casino. Therefore, it is not an expansion of gambling. Online lottery proponents could also use the same argument. The lottery already exists, so online lottery is just a new distribution channel and not an expansion. Lima is pretty confident that the measure could pass a voter referendum, saying she has no objection to a referendum if its required. Her confidence isnt misplaced. The state has held two gambling referendums in recent years and both passed with ease. A 2014 referendum allowing Newport Grand Casino to move to Tiverton passed by a 68-32 margin. In 2012, state voters authorized the states casinos to offer table games by a 71-29 margin.
Wynn Resorts is in full damage-control mode following allegations of sexual misconduct by Steve Wynn. Wall Street Journal broke the story. The subsequent fallout has been steep. Wynn announced his resignation on Feb.6 but has denied the allegations. In a statement, Wynn said, As I have reflected upon the environment this has created one in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts I have reached the conclusion I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles. Wynn is the companys namesake and now former CEO and Chairman of the Board. While his resignation has taken some of the heat of the company, it wasnt enough to completely insulate the company from further scrutiny. The company is being investigated in multiple jurisdictions. Moreover, in Massachusetts, its gaming license could even be on the line. There are still concerns whether Steve Wynn has control, stock ownership, and those types of things, said Ed Bedrosian, executive director of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Well have to find out what the resignation actually means. That would be an unprecedented development, considering Wynn Resorts is in the process of building a $2.4 billion casino just outside Boston. Massachusetts faces big test Massachusetts is a new player in the casino industry. However, the Bay State already has a reputation as a serious regulatory regime. The states gaming board set the gold standard on several fronts, most notably for its transparency and responsible gaming policies. Beyond that, the state has been lauded for its measured approach to casino expansion, including the awarding of licenses. The Wynn project is shaping up to be the first major test for the states gaming commission. Major outlets like the Boston Globe are calling on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to consider revoking Wynn Resorts license. But doing so could wreak havoc on the states fledgling casino industry. The fallout could include lawsuits and injunctions that would stall the project indefinitely. Even if the MGC is justified in revoking the Wynn license at this point in time, it might not want to. Construction is well underway. The MGC would not only have to find a new company to take over the license, it would have to find a company willing to take over the ambitious project. Few casino corporations are in the habit of building multi-billion dollar casinos. The ones that are capable of tackling such a major building project arent in the market for reclamation projects. Any company interested in a multi-billion dollar Boston casino is going to want to design it from the ground up. Taking over a half-complete project would be a tough sell to stockholders. Who knew what, and when? How the MGC responds will depend on what its investigation turns up. The MGC has been blindsided by the allegations against Wynn, particularly the $7.5 million settlement with a former employee that wasnt disclosed to the MGC during the suitability investigation. MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby made it clear, Wynn Resorts license will depend on what and when the Wynn board knew about the allegations and settlement. The board will also need to explain why it wasnt disclosed to the MGC. A central question is what did the board of directors and central staff know, and when did they know it, Crosby told local press.
Casinos are popping up a frenetic pace across New England. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut all have projects in the works. Last year, the Connecticut legislature authorized the states two gaming tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes, to build a joint satellite casino in East Windsor, Connecticut. The East Windsor casino is a reaction to the MGM Resorts casino opening this fall just over the border in Springfield, Massachusetts. When theyre complete, the two casinos will be about a 15-minute drive from one another and will be competing for the same customers. The tribes revealed some general plans for their satellite casinos last week. While its scant on details, the plans for the East Windsor casino have some wondering if it will offer much in the way of competition to the Massachusetts casino. Comparing the two casinos MGM Springfield is a near-billion-dollar casino project. When it opens its doors in September, the property will boast 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games. Other plans include:
A 250-room four-star hotel
Eight restaurants, dining options, and bars
26,000 square feet of retail space
On-site entertainment, including a bowling alley and cinema By comparison, the East Windsor casino project has a price tag of just $300 million. It will house 2,000 slot machines and around 100 table games on a single floor that is devoted almost entirely to gaming. There are preliminary plans for dining and entertainment options. Nonetheless, at $300 million, dont anticipate finding the same number or level of amenities as MGM Springfield. What you should expect is a basic food court, a couple sit-down restaurants or bars, and maybe some local live entertainment on the weekends. The property wont have a hotel. It wont have any retail space of note. And it wont have any celebrity chef restaurants. Based on the plans put forth last week, the most impressive part of the East Windsor casino appears to be the five-story 1,800-space parking garage. The East Windsor casino is going to better resemble Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts than it will Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Wynn Boston Harbor, or MGM Springfield. That makes the East Windsor casino what can best be categorized as a gambling joint. Customers are going to go to this establishment primarily to mash slot buttons and play low-limit table games. Can East Windsor compete with Springfield? The proximity of the two casinos doesnt bode well for the East Windsor project. Even if theyre coming from the south, its only an extra 15-20 minute drive to reach MGM Springfield. If customers have the choice, that extra 15 minutes isnt going to sway them one way or the other. And when push comes to shove, MGM Springfield is simply going to have more to offer. One advantage the tribal casino might have over MGM is its ability to draw people who also go to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun. Reason being, its likely the satellite casino will link its rewards program with the other tribal properties. But other than serious gamblers, I dont think that will be enough to overcome MGMs other advantages.
While most online poker networks are anxiously awaiting the inevitable traffic uptick that comes with Fall, WSOP NV is taking full advantage of its intimate ties to the worlds most exclusive tournament series. And so far, the results have been outstanding. According to data collected on PokerFuse Pro and PokerScout.com, cash-game traffic on WSOP.com Nevada is about to eclipse its all-time high. This, during a time when traffic across the global market is tumbling down towards its annual low. Well highlight a few of the primary reasons why WSOP NV is bucking the seasonal cash-game trend, and examine how the WSOP.com Online Championship series is faring compared to its equivalent counterpart in New Jersey. Counting down the reasons behind WSOP NVs traffic surge #5 New laptop friendly rules at the Rio To date, only a few players have been caught grinding it up online while physically seated at one of the Rios poker tables. This might have something to do with the fact that live World Series of Poker events typically require at least some measure of concentration. Or it may just be that lugging an unwieldy laptop around is too inconvenient for most players. The Rios Grind Room hasnt exactly been a huge hit either, but all told, the online poker-friendly casino floor has done something to facilitate WSOP NVs growth. #4 B&M Marketing WSOP.com logos adorn the Rio. From lighted displays to banners and branded tables, players cant walk 15 feet without some reminder that WSOP.com is live in Nevada. And while most WSOP veterans are accustomed to seeing all sorts of blatant advertisements during their stay at the Rio, I have to imagine that all the glitz and glamour is having some sort of residual effect on WSOP.com traffic levels. #3 David Tuchman As someone who lives on the East Coast, I often have to live vicariously through players lucky enough to play at the WSOP. And thanks to the (nearly) live streams hosted by David Tuchman, Im able to do so. But this years play-by-play differs somewhat from lasts, in that Tuchman cant go more than two minutes without interjecting some WSOP.com related tidbit. Whether its general talk about regulated online poker, a direct plug or a reminder that a satellite or Online Championship event is about to start soon, Tuchman is one of WSOP NVs most vocal advocates, and his reach is undoubtedly helping to spread awareness. #2 WSOP.com Online Championship and online qualifiers. The Rio has this Deepstack tournament that runs daily at 3 p.m. Always a popular draw, the $235 buy-in tourney is known to regularly attract 1,000 or even close to 2,000 runners during the WSOP, amassing six-figure prize pools in the process. Why? Because poker players who bust from WSOP events early, in the words of John Malkovichs Teddy KGB, feel so unsatisfied. That, and some players participate in smaller tournaments to build a Main Event worthy bankroll. The currently running WSOP.com Online Championship offers similar incentives in that its a series of mid-priced tournaments featuring top prizes in the $10,000 range. Then theres the WSOP online qualifiers, which allow players situated at the Rio to win their ticket to a $1,500 or $10,000 event online, go downstairs and parlay their good fortune into hundreds of thousands of dollars or at least thats the plan. #1 The WSOP For all its cross-promotional hoopla, the main reason players are mixing it up online is because anything associated with the WSOP right now is a win. That, and Las Vegas poker community probably tripled in the past two weeks. Last year, even Ultimate Poker experienced significant gains during the series? Could we really expect anything less now that a site brandishing the same name as live tournament pokers crown jewel is available to the masses? Notable facts about WSOP NVs traffic surge
For the first time since December, cash-game traffic on WSOP.com NV is greater than it is on WSOP.com NJ. Also, Nevadas Online Championship events are outperforming those in New Jersey by a significant margin.
7-day average cash-game volume on WSOP NV is hovering around 140, breaking the all-time high of 135 set in early November, 2013.
Traffic has increased a staggering 37% since May 20th.
Most satellites into the $215 2014 WSOP Main Event 25 Seat Scramble are offering incredible value for poker players.
WSOP NV is nipping on the heels of PartyPoker NJ for first place among US regulated poker sites.
Traffic on Ultimate Poker NV has remained relatively flat since the WSOP began. A Rundown of the WSOP.com NV Online Championship Thus Far To date, five of the 15 scheduled WSOP.com Online Championship events are in the books. Ill be the first to admit that I thought most would have trouble meeting their lofty guarantees, but the proof is in the pudding:
Event #1: $215 NLHE, $50k Guaranteed: 196 runners, $10,800 overlay
Event #2: $109 NLHE 6-Max, $10k Guaranteed: 177 runners, $17,700 prize pool
Event #3: $109 PLO, $10k Guaranteed, 97 runners, $300 overlay
Event #4: $109 R&A NLHE, $25k Guaranteed, 168 entries, 121 rebuys, 109 addons, $39,800 prize pool
Event #5: $109 NLHE $10k Guaranteed, 142 entries, $14,200 prize pool
A strange story appeared on the Internet late last week when PokerFuse and several other outlets reported that PokerNews.com was barred from reporting on the Mid Stakes Poker Tour (MSPT) at the Venetian. What makes this story all the more strange is that PokerNews is the primary sponsor of the tournament series, and what is considered a very non-controversial website. The immediate question that people had was whether this had anything to do with Adelsons efforts to ban online gambling considering PokerNews is one of the biggest online affiliates in the world and a widely read outlet for online poker news and information Im sure there are a few anti-Adelson articles on there as well. The early indications were yes, but the Venetians initial no comments, along with PokerNews initially saying they did not know the cause of the ban, left people speculating on whether the barring of PokerNews came down from the top, or if the outlet was sent packing for another reason. I for one was not convinced, as it seemed like a very petty reason to bar the outlet from reporting on the MSPT, almost unreasonable in a Im taking my ball and going home kind of way. Well, we now have our answer as both PokerNews and the Venetian have confirmed that they were barred from reporting because of the online gambling relationships between PokerNews and providers. So chalk up another one in the I was wrong column. Given our Chairmans clear position on the matter of online gaming, the Venetian / Palazzo made a business decision to not allow an online blog during the Mid-States Poker Tour event, Kathy Raymond, Executive Director of Poker Operations at The Venetian, told PokerNews in a statement. It is now clear this was another political stiff arm against our industry that Sheldon Adelson is behind, said PokerNews Editor-in-Chief Donnie Peters on Saturday. It is unfortunate that one mans stance against poker holds such strength and yes, I do mean poker as a whole and not just online poker, because Adelson is without a doubt hurting the overall growth of the game the more he fights against the virtual variant. Poker world torn over how to handle Venetian So why do poker players continue to frequent the Venetian? Several boycotts have been hinted at / attempted, but the Venetian is considered one of the nicer poker properties in the world (which is a shame) with an excellent room and excellent staff. Some people feel a boycott only hurts the staff in the poker room, while others feel a boycott sends a very clear message even if it doesnt hurt Adelson and the Venetian financially. Needless to say, this is a tough spot for poker players to be in. Here is my previous take on a Venetian boycott. Is this a misstep by Adelson? As mentioned above, the move itself reeks of pettiness, and in my opinion will likely have some unintended consequences for Adelson and his cohorts Its a move that I would have advised against for several reasons:
It paints PokerNews as the victim, and Adelson and the Venetian as using bully tactics. If you want public support one of the best ways to gain is to appear as the victim. Adelson has been trying to paint online gambling advocates as wanting to impose their will on the rest of society. With his recent actions against PokerNews it now appears that Adelson is the one trying to force his beliefs down everyones throats and will stoop to petty tactics such as this to get it done.
The MSPT is a small scale poker tour that would have garnered little attention, especially while the WSOP is taking place down the road. Honestly, the MSPT coverage is not widely read and is barely a blip on the poker radar when its the only tournament series taking place. PokerNews coverage of the tournament at the Venetian would have come and gone like a ship in the night. Instead he turned it into a fiasco that garnered a lot more press, and made his property look quite unreasonable.
From an outsiders point of view this is the move of an aggrieved person who feels he is losing the fight; nobody, and I mean nobody has sympathy for the Im taking my ball and going home guy. Want to know who is winning a fight? Just look to see which side starts making desperate, illogical actions. This move by Adelson and the Venetian seems akin to a boxer coming out in the 10th round and needing a knockout, swinging wildly.
It opens up Adelson to new lines of attack. Its not lost on anyone that Adelson once hosted PokerStars branded tournaments at the Venetian, so once again his current stance on online gambling appears to be more fiscal and less moral, while Adelson claims otherwise. So thank you for giving poker advocates yet another avenue of attack to use against you. Its ok for PokerStars to come into the Venetian in 2011 (when they are for all intents and purposes afoul of US law) and plaster their brand all over the place, but its not ok for PokerNews (who in 2014 has not a single online advertisement that runs counter to current US law) to report on a tournament series they sponsor. Notice Sheldon didnt boot the MSPT, just PokerNews.
On Thursday evening, the Amaya Gaming Group posted a press release on its website confirming that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Rational Group. As part of its arrangement, Rationals parent company Oldford Group will cede 100 percent of issued and outstanding shares to Amaya in exchange for a cash sum totaling $4.9 billion. While several sources speculated that the arrangement would only involve Full Tilt Poker, Amaya will indeed acquire the worlds largest and most successful online poker room in PokerStars, shareholder approval withstanding. This shocking development comes on the heels of Amayas stock rising 29 percent over the past several days and nearly doubling in the past month. We examine the particulars of the unprecedented deal and its possible impact on Nevadas regulated gaming market. Notable aspects of the acquisition From an operational perspective not much will change. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will not experience an interruption of service, nor will there be any unexpected changes to company sponsored poker tours or other live events. The Rational Group will retain its base of operations in the Isle of Manand the vast majority of its executive management team. Likewise, Amayas headquarters will remain situated in Montreal. Beyond that, the entire poker world might as well have been flipped upside down. To illustrate, CEO of Rational Mark Scheinberg will leave his post once the transaction is completed, as will OldGroups principles. Furthermore, Scheinberg will dispose of all of his shares in the company. Amaya will effectively become the worlds largest online gaming company. Not only that, for the first time in history, a company associated with the PokerStars brand will be publicly traded on an exchange. Amayas stock price currently resides at $13.03 an all-time high. Its likely that investors will be keeping a close eye on it as more news develops. Key players comment on the Amaya / Rational deal According to Amaya the acquisition will allow PokerStars faster entry into the U.S. regulated market. To date, PokerStars attempts to breach the U.S. have met with heavy resistance in both California and New Jersey. Amaya CEO David Baazov had kind words for Mark Scheinberg, stating that he pioneered the online poker industry, building a remarkable business and earning the trust of millions of poker players
Considering that PokerStars boasts peak cash-game averages 10 times higher than any other online poker network in the world, truer words have never been spoken. Scheinberg exhibited confidence in Rationals new owners, also taking a moment to recount Rationals many accolades. These achievements were on full display further down in the release. Of particular note:
In 2013, PokerStars held an online poker tournament boasting 225,000 participants a Guinness World Record.
PokerStars holds a majority share in nearly every poker market it has entered.
The Rational Group was named one of the best workplaces in the United Kingdom.
Oldford Group boasted revenues of $976 million and $1.1 billion in 2012 and 2013, respectively. PPA executive director John Pappas also chimed in with his thoughts: Again, from the vantage point of the U.S. poker player longing for the pre-Black Friday days when PokerStars reigned supreme, truer words have never been spoken. What does it mean for Nevada? In the short-term, probably not too much. Much of the immediate focus will inevitably fall on New Jersey, where PokerStars already has a land-based casino partner (Resorts in Atlantic City). PokerStars license application was suspended for a two-year period by the Garden States regulatory committee. However, with the subtraction of Isai Scheinberg from the equation, its presumed that Pokerstars case will be reopened. Attention will also fall to California, where proposed legislation features a bad actor clause, which would prohibit PokerStars and FTP from operating in what would likely be the nations largest online poker market. Whether Amayas acquisition of Rational will soften CAs stance is currently unknown. Nevada would benefit from PokerStars reentry in more subtle ways. For one, just the mere presence of PokerStars will undoubtedly spread regulated iGaming awareness. PokerStars will pose an immediate threat to the USs iGaming operators, who risk extinction once it arrives. That alone should be reason enough for U.S. iGaming operators to up their game, which thus far the recent efforts of WSOP.com withstanding has been mediocre. Looking further, should New Jersey enter an interstate compact with Nevada, its conceivable that players from the Silver State would one day gain access to the revered poker network. Imagine the traffic during the World Series of Poker. Otherwise, I cant see PokerStars pursuing an arrangement in Nevada that vigorously, if only because the Silver State features a relatively small population compared to New Jersey.
The opening of the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor Casino in Massachusetts is still a year and a half away, but the property is beginning to take shape. Located on the banks of the Mystic River in Everett, Massachusetts, Wynn Boston Harbor is being touted as Americas first urban five-star gaming resort. As such, visitors should expect to be wowed with the lavish décor and world-class amenities. Heres a glimpse at what the resort casino will have to offer. A quick history of Wynn Boston Harbor Wynn Resorts owns and operates Wynn Boston Harbor. Even though it will be the last of the three approved Massachusetts commercial casinos to open its doors, Wynn will be the grandest and the most popular. The Wynn project has a few things working in its favor. First, its located just outside of Boston proper. As they say, location, location, location. Second, the company is investing a lot of money in its success. The casino will have a final price tag some 2.5-times forthcoming MGM Springfield Casino in western Massachusetts. Wynn Boston Harbor was the most controversial of the three Massachusetts casinos. That is part of the reason it is the last to open. In addition to the usual hullabaloo that accompanies any large scale building project, local lawsuits over revenue sharing and the land Wynn purchased for the property having ties to mobsters stalled the casinos construction. Despite the casinos travails, its been relatively smooth sailing since Wynn broke ground on the project. Wynn Boston Harbor entertainment At this point there are scant details about the casinos on-site entertainment options. The property will almost certainly boast some type of theater for shows, as well as live music in night clubs, bars, and perhaps the pool area. However, Wynn might scale down some of its entertainment options, considering the casinos proximity to Boston, and its plethora of theater and entertainment choices. One thing we do know, Wynn Boston Harbor will have a 36,000 square-foot ballroom and meeting space that it will use to host special events like New Years Eve parties. Wynn Boston Harbor restaurants Wynn Boston Harbor will boast 13 restaurants, dining options, and bars. In a March 2017 interview with the Everett Independent, Wynn Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio gave a few hints at the types of restaurants that visitors will be able to choose from. The cuisines DeSalvio named included:
An oyster bar
An Asian fusion restaurant
An Italian fine dining restaurant
A casual Italian restaurant
A craft brewery But with its opening still 18 months in the future, only a single restaurant has officially been linked to the property. Sinatra Wynn is bringing one of its top restaurant brands to Boston: Sinatra. There is already a Sinatra Restaurant in Wynn Encore Casino in Las Vegas. According to a press release by Wynn Boston Harbor the Sinatra menu will include many of Ol Blue Eyes favorite dishes such as spaghetti and clams and ossobuco. The décor at Sinatra Wynn Boston Harbor will feature plenty of Sinatra memorabilia, including his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in From Here to Eternity and his Grammy Award for Strangers in the Night. Wynn Boston Harbor amenities Hotel and grounds Wynn Boston Harbor includes a 29-story hotel with 671 rooms and suites. The casino will have a 3,000-space, four-story underground parking garage, as well as an additional 800 parking spots offsite. The amenities offered at the five-star property include:
A full service spa
An indoor garden
Harbor walk Retail Original plans called for over 56,000 square feet of retail space. After finding high-end tenants proved problematic, that number dropped to just 9,000 square feet. Other than being ultra-high-end, little is known about what kind of stores the retail space will house. The ballroom As noted above, the property will have a 36,000 square-foot multi-use convention space. That will make Wynn Boston Harbor the second-largest convention space in Boston. The ballroom was added late in the process, replacing some of the planned retail locations. DeSalvio explained the change to the Everett Independent in March: In addition to the main room there are also 10 smaller meeting rooms available. Wynn Boston Harbor gaming Gaming is central to any casino, but Wynn properties tend to rely less on gaming than its competitors, preferring non-gaming revenue. That said, the casino will have a 200,000 square-foot casino floor that will house:
2,500 slot machines
150 table games
A 90-plus table poker room Photo by Casimiro PT / Shutterstock.com
Rhode Island State Senator William Conley is paying close attention to the New Jersey sports betting case. The Supreme Court of the United States should have a decision on the case sometime in 2018. In an interview with WPRI, Sen. Conley, the chair of the RI Senate Finance Committee, was asked if online gambling would land on the legislatures radar should New Jersey prevail in the case. Absolutely, I do think that the Senate president thinks that thats something that we should look at seriously, and that it will bring in revenue, Conley said. He went on to say that such legislation could be passed as early as 2018. What do you mean by online gambling? Before Rhode Islanders get too excited, Conleys comments arent so clear-cut. The brevity of the interview and use of the term online gambling in conjunction with the New Jersey sports betting case makes it difficult to discern the context of the interview. Its unclear if Conley and the interviewer are simply mislabeling the case as an issue of online gambling. It is also possible they are not up to speed on what the case is about and are conflating the two issues. If its the former, Conley is open to passing legislation that would allow Rhode Island to offer sports betting online. If its the latter, the Senate Finance Committee Chair is open to online gambling and/or sports betting. He is simply unaware that one doesnt require a New Jersey sports betting win. RI doesnt need an NJ win to offer online gambling Rhode Island, and any other state in fact, has the authority to legalize online casino and poker games thanks to a 2011 Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel opinion. Four states already used the 2011 OLC opinion to do just that:
Pennsylvania Additionally, six states used the OLC opinion to legalize online lottery:
Pennsylvania Is RI a real contender? Rhode Island is on PlayUSAs not-so-short-list of online gaming contenders. That said, it takes time to get lawmakers up to speed. If Conleys ambiguous comments are any indication, it would be harried effort to pass anything in 2018. The best-case scenario would be if multiple New England states continue their game of keeping up with the Joness, in what has become a hyper-competitive gaming market. Those states are:
Maine Land-based casinos are sprouting up across the region. With saturation pretty much complete, it appears these states are now turning their attention online.
Connecticut has already started legalizing sports betting should New Jersey prevail.
New Hampshire legalized online lottery earlier this year. It also explored online gambling.
Massachusetts is already looking into online gaming and online lottery.