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Rhode Island Man Loses Second Challenge Against Sports Betting Legislation

The Rhode Island Superior Court has shunned a disgruntled individual’s second legal challenge against the legitimacy of sports betting in the state. 

A man named Dan Harrop filed a lawsuit last May, because he felt that the vertical should be stopped since it was not specifically approved in a referendum. 

But despite his efforts, the court disagreed with him and determined Rhode Island sports betting to be constitutional. 

While the Superior Court has made its own decision, Harrop can still appeal it to the Supreme Court if he wishes to do so. 

The legalization of sports betting was fair, according to the superior court

Sports betting was passed into law in 2018, after Governor Gina Raimondo signed legislation that allowed this. The vertical was then extended to online and mobile in early 2019. 

According to the court, fair notice was given to referendum voters that saying yes to the expansion would mean that all ‘Class III’ casino gaming is approved. Since sports betting is a ‘Class III’ gaming activity, it could be legalized once PASPA was repealed. 

Judges also argued that referendum questions do not need to explain every single detail. As such, there was no need for sports betting to be explicitly mentioned. 

Rhode Lottery spokesperson Paul Grimaldi reacted to the Superior Court’s decision, and said the following.

“We appreciate the time and attention dedicated to this issue by the Superior Court. The ruling issued today reinforces what previous legal opinions have affirmed, that sports betting is both allowable under the law and that voters approved of its start in Rhode Island and its subsequent availability online. 

“Sports betting has proven popular among the state’s residents since its inception here in November 2018, with the revenue generated from it supporting investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure and more.”

Not the first time Harrop has opposed Rhode Island sports betting 

After Harrop initially argued that the regulation of sports betting in Rhode Island was unconstitutional, the court threw out his request. This was because, according to judges who worked on that case, he wasn’t able to prove that sports betting had directly affected him. 

However, the former psychiatrist was having none of it. Harrop, who lost his campaign to become Mayor of the City of Providence in 2014, came back with what he believed to be proof. He presented forward a slip where he had bet on the New England Patriots, and lost. That, in his eyes, was enough to show that he was directly harmed. And according to Superior Court Judge Brian Stern, it was enough evidence for Harrop to try again. 

But for a second time, he failed to convince everybody. The judge argued that when voters allowed table games to be introduced at a casino in Tiverton, they were also giving their approval for sports betting. 

The iGaming media has tried to contact Harrop, but failed to get an answer thus far. 

Sports betting in Maine almost wiped out in April 

Rhode Island sports betting has been hit hard by COVID-19, which is perhaps unsurprising. After all, it has a population of just 1.059 million. On top of that, players from nearby states haven’t been able to move as freely as before. And of course, there’s the shutdown of land-based casinos. 

Sports betting revenue suffered a month-on-month fall of 96.7% in April, with operators generating a total of $27,381 between them. 

Sports betting handle also dropped dramatically. Players wagered $591,377 in the same month, which was 93.4% lower than had been the case in March. 

River Casino and Tiverton Casino will both be allowed to reopen from June 8th. However, admission will be on an invite-only basis.

At the time of writing, Rhode Island has reported 14,991 COVID-19 cases and 1,252 related deaths.

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