Ruggerio introduces mobile sports betting bill


Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, placed ceremonial first bets with John Taylor, chairman of Twin River Worldwide Holdings. Photo by Tessa Roy, WPRO News.

By Tessa Roy, WPRO News

Can’t make it to the casino to make a sports bet? One state leader wants an app for that.

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio introduced a bill Wednesday that would legalize mobile sports betting. He said it could help curb the crowds at Twin River and bring in more revenue than expected.

“With the big crowds that are going up to Twin River, I think we need some kind of an app because people are getting disenchanted with the long waits up there, and a lot of people have walked out of there without placing bets. We don’t want that,” he said.

Ruggerio’s bill would require betters to set up their mobile accounts in person at the casino and be physically in Rhode Island to place bets via mobile devices and apps. He said now is a good time to do this.

“A lot of people do Draft Kings and things like that, but what you’re seeing now is lot of these young people do this and they do it on offshore, and obviously we want to capture that money here and we have a golden opportunity because right now we’re the only one in New England that does this, so we’ve got to get it right,” he said.

Ruggerio also said he doesn’t see a big drop-off in Twin River’s business if people don’t have to be there to place their bets.

“From what I’m told, everything is going up… Their business has increased, the food, beverages, everything like that has increased substantially, and if people choose to go there, they just don’t want to stay there for an extended period of time in line,” he said.

Twin River spokesperson Patti Doyle said the casino agrees with Ruggerio “that the Sportsbook Bar and Grill has been extremely well received.” She added that Twin River doesn’t typically comment on public policy issues, but that “we look forward to being a part of the conversation on this issue.”