PODCAST: GOP – led lawsuit challenges RI sports betting

Announcing a lawsuit against the state of Rhode Island over sports betting on May 1, 2019 are (from left) attorneys Brandon Bell and Joseph Larisa and Rhode Island Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Listen to “GOP – led lawsuit challenges RI sports betting” on Spreaker.

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

A lawsuit filed by two lawyers linked with the state Republican party on behalf of a former GOP candidate claims the introduction of sports betting in Rhode Island last fall was not approved by voters, and represents a violation of the state constitution.

Former state Republican party chairman Brandon Bell and Joseph Larisa, a former mayor of East Providence filed suit Wednesday in Superior Court on behalf of Dr. Daniel Harrop, a former candidate for mayor of Providence against the state Division of Lotteries and Department of Administration, which oversee the Rhode Island Lottery Commission.


“If one provision of our constitution is… ehhh, we’ll just disregard it this time, then all provisions of our constitution are in jeopardy,” said Larisa, who penned an opinion piece a year ago that claimed any expansion of gambling requires voter approval under the state constitution.

He said the adoption of video lottery games and table games were both put to voters in statewide referenda.

“They followed the constitution. “Do you want video lotteries and table games?” Very clear. Then, they defined them in the voter information book. What’s missing? Sports betting. It wasn’t anywhere.”

The administration responded with a statement from Josh Block, spokesman for Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“Multiple legal opinions have affirmed that sports betting was already approved by the voters. The revenue from sports betting supports investments in education, health care, infrastructure and more, and we remain confident that it will be upheld in court,” Block wrote.

Bell listed a litany of uncontrolled spending by state leaders.

“And you’d think that Speaker (Nicholas) Mattiello, Governor Raimondo and Senate President (Dominick) Ruggerio could operate a legal bookie operation competently. And they can’t even do that,” said Bell.

“This isn’t an anti-sports betting suit. It isn’t an anti-online sports betting suit. All we’re asking for is – let the public vote,” said Larisa. He expects the lawsuit will eventually be settled by the state supreme court.

WPRO’s Dan Yorke had an in-depth conversation with Larisa and Bell Wednesday afternoon. Listen to that full conversation below:

Listen to “Former RI GOP Chairman Brandon Bell and Attorney Joe Larisa : Sports Betting Lawsuit” on Spreaker.


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