Judge sides with state in legal challenge to sports betting

Sports betting opens up at Twin River casino. Photo by WPRO News.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A judge has denied a request by a Republican activist to halt sports betting in Rhode Island.

Daniel Harrop, a former Providence mayoral candidate, in his complaint said that sports betting at the state’s two casinos and online violates the state Constitution because it was not approved by voters.

He also said that through online wagering, the state allows sports betting to take place at any location in Rhode Island, not just the casinos.

Judge Brian Stern agreed with Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration, which argued that voters gave the go-ahead for sports betting when they approved table games at Twin River’s casino in Tiverton, The Providence Journal reported Monday.

“The court finds that based on the plain language of the referenda questions and the definition of casino gaming … voters had ‘fair notice’ that they were broadly approving all casino gaming and any other game included within the definition of Class III gaming,” Stern wrote.

Joseph Larisa Jr., Harrop’s attorney, called the decision disappointing and said it will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The ruling opens the door for an entire online casino without voter approval, he said.