Bill now sent to House

Rhode Island Senate approves legislation to allow betting on in-state college teams

Reading time 1:17 min

The Rhode Island Senate has approved legislation from President Dominick Ruggerio that would allow sports betting on in-state collegiate teams, something that has been prohibited since the legalization of sports betting in 2018.

The new bill would allow betting on collegiate teams when participating in tournaments with four or more teams. The legislation is now in the hands of the House of Representatives for consideration

Ruggerio, who sponsored the state’s original sports betting legislation, said wagering has generated a great deal of excitement since it became law. "This legislation will enable Rhode Islanders to wager on their favorite college teams when participating in highly anticipated events like March Madness,” he said, as reported by ABC6 News.

"It makes a very small change that brings Rhode Island in line with neighboring states, including Massachusetts, which took this approach when it legalized sports betting,” Ruggerio added.

R.I. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio

The new proposal would allow Rhode Islanders to bet on college athletic events that either take place in Rhode Island or in which any Rhode Island collegiate team participates, regardless of where it takes place.

In this measure, a “collegiate tournament” is defined as a series of collegiate sports or athletic events involving four or more collegiate teams that make up a single unit of competition. Tournaments include pre-season invitationals, conference tournaments, and NCAA tournaments, such as March Madness.

The effort to expand sports betting options in Rhode Island comes as the state’s market keeps gaining momentum. Players in the Ocean State wagered $62.3 million on sports in January, a record for RI, although revenue in the state remained level year-on-year.

“I think it’s something that will raise revenue next year,” Ruggerio said of the college sports betting bill last week. “I’m also looking at iGaming. I think that will be a substantial revenue generator down the line where people can stay at home and basically do everything similar to what they do on sports betting.”

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