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Rhode Island State Governor Gina Raimondo has approved amendments to the state’s sports betting legislation which will allow players to register remotely. 

SB 2919 and HB 8097 were both signed off by Raimondo on Thursday, after the Senate had passed legislation on to the Governor earlier in the week. 

Those wishing to wager on sports online had previously needed to sign up at a land-based venue, with a proposal to change this introduced last month. 

Sports betting has been legal in Rhode Island since last September. It’s likely that players will be able to register remotely prior to the start of the NFL season in just under two months. 

Opening the (online) door to more players

Players should be able to sign for sports betting accounts around a month after the Governor signed off the amendments. So, the end of next month is looking like a realistic date for this.

Up until now, players looking to complete the registration for a sports betting account in Rhode Island have had to go to one of the state’s two Twin River Casinos. One of these is in Lincoln, with the other located in Tiverton. 

The barrier of having to do this has caused issues. According to the state’s Department of Revenue, 14,000 players have started the registration process on their phone – but never went to a casino to seal the deal. 

Mobile sports betting in Rhode Island is offered by the state’s lottery. According to the DOR, only 45% of downloads were fully activated afterwards. For context, the industry average is around 75%. 

Allowing players to register remotely could lead to an upturn in the state’s sports betting revenue. Operators have generated just $3.5 million since the market’s regulation 10 months ago, with players wagering a meagre (compared to other states at least) $46.2 million. 

Governor spokesman Paul Grimaldi mentioned that the approval of remote betting was carried out with the aim of attracting more players. 

He said: 

“Like any new product, player feedback is important.

“We’ve worked with our partners to improve the sports betting experience since it launched. The evolution of player registration to a fully remote process mobile is part of that effort as we work to provide the best possible player experience.”

The other boundary put up by enforcing land-based registration was that during the COVID-19 pandemic, people were unable to do this. As such, no new sign-ups were possible for a while and there is the obvious risk of infection with person-to-person contact. Grimaldi also confirmed that this was seen as a way to reduce the spread of the virus. 

Players from further afield could also benefit 

The Ocean State might also enjoy extra interest from further afield. For example, nearby Massachusetts hasn’t yet regulated sports betting – though the idea has been discussed.

Residents of the Bay State who wish to bet on sports now only have to cross over the state border into Rhode Island to do so. Depending on where they live, this might be easier than heading north to New Hampshire instead.

Iowa and Illinois to follow suit 

Iowa and Illinois are two other US states that had required players to complete their sign-ups for sports betting accounts physically. However, this will not be the case for long.

Iowa will enable players to register remotely from January 2021, with Illinois also set to remove the requirement once it approves the first $20 million online-only sportsbook permit. 

All other US states where sports betting is legal, with the exception of Nevada, allow players to perform the full registration process online. 

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