Rhode Island Explores Online Lottery Tickets As Possible Revenue Source

Published February 7, 2018 by Elana K

Rhode Island Explores Online Lottery Tickets As Possible Revenue Source

Rhode Island is exploring possible options for increased revenue; these include online lottery ticket sales, sports betting, and online gambling.

The Rhode Island Lottery may soon be joining the other 4 states that currently offer online lottery tickets. Legislation that would allow Rhode Island to sell online lottery tickets and scratch-offs is being pushed forward by State Rep. Charlene Lima, who claims that an online lottery will help Rhode Island beat its growing budget deficit and pension shortfall.

In addition to bringing in much-needed revenue, Lima claims that online lottery ticket sales will be more attractive to the state’s growing millennial population.

Possible Obstacles

Rhode Island’s existing law states that gambling expansion cannot take place without a voter referendum. Lima argues that online lottery ticket sales don’t fall into that category, but that has yet to be seen. If Lima is incorrect, and online lottery tickets are considered part of gambling expansion, a voter referendum must be held, the results of which are impossible to predict. 

Rhode Island Sports Betting

At the same time that Lima is working on her bill, Rhode Island’s governor, Gina Raimondo, has included legal sports betting in her new budget bill, which is estimated to bring in $23.5 million in revenue. The sports betting would only be offered at two of Rhode Island’s land-based casino, in order to avoid the same referendum issue possibly facing Lima’s bill.

What’s the Forecast for Rhode Island Online Gambling?

While no concrete steps have been taken toward online gambling in Rhode Island, it seems that should legislation be introduced, many lawmakers would be on board. In early January Sen. William Conley commented about online gambling, “I do think that the Senate president thinks that that’s something that we should look at seriously, and that it will bring in revenue.”

The fact that neighboring states seem to be leaning toward legalization might also be another push for Rhode Island. Pennsylvania recently became the fourth state to legalize online gambling, and New Hampshire is also strongly considering legislation. If Rhode Island is looking for a long-term budget fix, online gambling is a strong option.

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