The Rhode Island General Assembly has passed legislation that would allow wagering on in-state collegiate sports teams, expanding the scope of sports betting in the state.
The bill specifies that bets can only be placed on teams participating in tournaments consisting of four or more teams. This new development comes on the heels of a recent iGaming bill passing in the Senate.
According to Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, the aim of the legislation is to allow Rhode Islanders to bet on their favorite local college teams during highly anticipated events like March Madness, without being forced to go to neighboring states. Ruggerio stated: "We want to keep those fans, and those dollars, here at home."
The bill was introduced by Ruggerio in the Senate and Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski in the House. It will also maintain the prohibition on wagering on individual performance statistics of collegiate athletes.
President Ruggerio emphasized the importance of keeping the revenue generated by sports betting within the state and aligning Rhode Island's approach with neighboring states like Massachusetts. He said that residents should have the option to place wagers on college tournaments without having to travel outside the state.
Representative Baginski echoed Ruggerio's sentiments, stating that the legislation is "a common-sense" move to retain much-needed revenue and allow Rhode Island's college sports fans to bet on their favorite teams during tournament play.
"The current model that sends Rhode Island’s sports bettors out of state to place their wagers frankly makes no sense, and this legislation will keep that betting revenue in the state where it belongs,” said Baginski.
The bill will now be sent to Governor Dan McKee for consideration. If signed into law, it would allow wagers on collegiate tournaments that take place in Rhode Island or which involve Rhode Island collegiate teams, regardless of where they occur.