Committee hears bill to allow sports betting in RI

By John Krinjak


Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A day after the US Supreme Court ruled a ban on sports betting was unconstitutional, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio is pushing a bill to bring sports gambling to Twin River casino in Lincoln, and its new facility in Tiverton.

"Well I think a lot of Rhode Islanders like to bet on sports, that’s what I think," said Ruggerio. 

Ruggerio wants to fast track this bill and have the sports betting begin by October. Twin Rive is wasting no time looking at vendors. 

"We want to get up and running as soon as possible. We’re looking at this as a revenue generator. I think it’s a great revenue source. I think it’ll really help us out," said Ruggerio. 

Among those speaking before the Senate Finance Committee, reps for the NBA, Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour. They want to charge a quarter of a percent fee on all bets taken in Rhode Island. 

"It’s meant to compensate for the risk that sports betting creates for sports leagues, and also to fund the increased expenses that leagues are going to have to incur," said Dan Spillane of the NBA. 

Finance Chair William Conley says he’s not a fan of the leagues taking a piece of the betting action.

"You really need to make a better case that there is a return on investment for the taxpayers of Rhode Island. So far I don’t think you’ve made a compelling argument for that," said Conley. 

But league reps tell us other states have been open to it.

"Generally speaking, the list of things that we’re asking for has been supported by members of both parties in many of the states that we’ve been to," said Morgan Sword of Major League Baseball. 

If sports betting is a winner here, Ruggerio hopes to expand it. 

"Maybe to internet gaming and have some satellite facilities throughout the state to make it convenient, and try to capture some of the money from Massachusetts and Connecticut."

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