Rhode Island Senate Approves Doubling Credit Limit At Bally’s Casinos

Erik Gibbs

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The Rhode Island Senate has approved a bill to double the credit limit for gamblers at Bally’s Corporation’s casinos in a decisive 28-5 vote.

The legislation, Senate Bill 3040, which raises the stakes by increasing the credit limit to $100,000, was sponsored by Sen. Frank Ciccone III and co-sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. It’s part of a broader push to revitalize the state’s gaming industry and it passed after Bally’s lobbied for the change.

Bally’s and its legislative allies pointed out that some of Rhode Island’s neighbors don’t have caps on casino gambling credit. Massachusetts, with no limit, allows patrons at casinos to borrow potentially large sums of money. Similarly, Connecticut’s tribal-run casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, operate without a borrowing cap, providing patrons with the flexibility to request substantial lines of credit. Nevada also has no cap.

The Rhode Island bill has been met with both enthusiasm and scrutiny. Proponents argue that the increased limit will attract high-rollers and boost economic activity. Critics raised concerns about the potential for increased gambling addiction and financial risk for players. Senators Sam Bell, Tiara Mack, Joshua Miller, Linda Ujifusa, and Bridget Valverde all voted against the measure.

The bill’s passage in the Senate is only the first step. Companion legislation, sponsored by Rep. Gregory Costantino, a Democrat from Lincoln, is still under consideration. The House Committee on Finance is reviewing the proposal following a hearing on May 23, leaving the final outcome in the balance as stakeholders eagerly await the committee’s decision.

Casino smoking lamp still lit

In other Rhode Island casino news, the fight for smoke-free air in the state’s casinos continues to be a contentious issue. Earlier this year, House Bill 7500, which aimed to eliminate designated smoking areas and transition both Bally’s Twin River and Bally’s Tiverton to entirely smoke-free environments, was tabled by the House Finance Committee. A similar Senate bill, SB 2368, faced the same fate in the Senate Finance Committee.

Currently, Rhode Island allows casinos to designate smoking areas, but these areas must be physically separated from non-smoking areas and equipped with independent ventilation systems. This allows patrons to choose a smoke-free experience but doesn’t eliminate smoking entirely.

Last month, after some initially showed support, Bally’s shareholders voted against proposals that would have initiated an investigation into the financial implications of banning smoking in Bally’s casinos. This decision aligns with a similar stance taken by Boyd Gaming’s investors.

RI sees upswing in online casino revenue

These legislative efforts coincide with a notable surge in online gaming revenue in Rhode Island. In April, the first full month with legal online casino in the state after it launched March 5, Bally’s reported a 72% increase in iGaming revenue, with adjusted gross revenue totaling over $2 million.

This growth is attributed not just to the additional days of gaming in April but also to the burgeoning popularity of online slots, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of the revenue, amassing $1.3 million. Online table games generated around $740,000.

Live-dealer games, while still a smaller segment in terms of revenue generation, saw a massive increase of more than 210% month-over-month.