Anticipating a positive outcome to the Christie v NCAA federal lawsuit currently being considered by the United States Supreme Court, the small eastern state of Rhode Island has reportedly begun the process of appointing a firm to run a local legalized sportsbetting service.
According to a Tuesday report from The Providence Journal newspaper, the Rhode Island Lottery is hoping to initiate a request for proposal scheme that would seek to appoint a firm to offer land-based sportsbetting from the Twin River Casino in Lincoln as well as its coming Twin River Tiverton Casino Hotel counterpart.
However, the newspaper reported that the whole plan depends on the United States Supreme Court finding in favor of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and invalidating the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was ratified in 1992 and instituted a nationwide ban on all sportsbetting in the United States with the notable exceptions of venues located in the states of Delaware, Oregon, Nevada and Montana.
“If the [United States] Supreme Court overturns, we have to have sports gambling to remain competitive,” Mark Furcolo, Director for the Rhode Island Department of Revenue, reportedly told the Rhode Island House of Representatives’ Finance Committee yesterday. “Massachusetts has big gambling entities to run its casinos. It will be able to offer sportsbetting very quickly.”
The Providence Journal reported that the request for proposal process is still to be ratified by legislators although Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (pictured) may have been attempting to force their hands by recently including some $23.5 million in new revenues from legalized sportsbetting at the Twin River Casino in her proposed state budget for next year.
The newspaper reported that the Rhode Island Lottery believes legalized sportsbetting is essential to protect the $872 million the state already makes from gambling and lottery products annually and that it hopes to have awarded an ‘exclusive contract to provide initial sportsbetting services’ in time for the Twin River Casino to begin taking wagers by October.
However, the request for proposal has reportedly drawn criticism from some legislators because it would not contain specific language setting out the relationship between the state’s sole licensed casino operator, Twin River Management Group Incorporated, and the winning bidder or establish the tax rate for any future sportsbetting operation.
Furcolo reportedly told legislators that these details would be worked out as the request for proposal process plays out with the application language moreover set to ask bidders to demonstrate ‘their capability to readily adapt to any future additions to authorized sportsbetting operations in the state’ such as an ability to offer wagers online.
In hopes of further future-proofing the request for proposal, interested operators are to reportedly additionally be asked to submit separate tenders covering ‘multiple options’ for the implementation of ‘other types of sportsbetting in Rhode Island’ brought about by an anticipated rise in the number of ‘innovative and cutting-edge’ technology options.