Can You Play Online Poker in Rhode Island?
No, you cannot play online poker in Rhode Island at the moment, but that will be changing very soon. Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee recently signed the bills that legalized online poker in the state. The bill, which will go into effect on March 1, 2024, makes Rhode Island the eighth state to legalize online poker in the country. However, it’ll still take a few months or years for online poker sites to become fully operational in the state, so players have to explore other options for now.
Why Not? What Are the Online Poker Laws in Rhode Island?
Until recently, Rhode Island laws criminalized operating or promoting online gambling activities, and this included online poker. Section 11-19-1 of Rhode Island law made this an offense punishable by up to 1-year jail term. Consequently, Rhode Island did not have any form of state-regulated online gambling, and no online poker room had legal permits to operate within the state.
This is about to change with the recent signing of a bill to legalize Rhode Island online poker. The bill, which was signed in 2023, will take effect in March 2024. Despite these sweeping changes, it’ll take a few more years before Rhode Island residents can fully access online poker within the state.
Since online poker rooms are yet to become fully operational in Rhode Island, the (risky) alternative for poker fans in the state is to play on offshore gambling sites. These are websites licensed in countries outside the United States. Since they are not bound by local restrictions, offshore sites allow registration from players in Rhode Island and other parts of the country.
However, MyPokerCoaching does not recommend playing poker on offshore sites. Some of these sites operate in territories with weak licensing laws governing their operation. Consequently, there is no full guarantee that they can protect the money and personal information of players. Many offshore sites can not guarantee a fair game (i.e. there may be cheaters at your table) and US players have no legal protection when they play on “unregulated” sites like these.
Potential Rhode Island Poker Sites to Launch in the Future
Poker has been popular in Rhode Island for many years, but the state is still to regulate online poker sites. There have been several attempts at it over the years, but so far, none have come to fruition.
It is a pretty safe bet that online poker in RI will be regulated at some point in the future, so the only real question is when. While it’s hard to give any definitive answer at this point in time, we continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated with any important developments.
When online poker is finally legal in RI, there are a few sites that we can expect to go live. These are all operators with a major presence in the regulated US market, and they’ll likely jump at the opportunity to expand their presence.
BetMGM Poker Rhode Island
BetMGM has established itself as a household name in the regulated US online poker space, and the operator will likely be among the first to stake a claim in such an attractive new market.
We expect BetMGM Poker will bring out a platform similar to that in other states like PA, MI, and NJ. A poker client powered by the PartyPoker technology offers a modern and very reliable solution for all online poker fans, even if it is not as rich in functionalities as some other platforms.
In terms of game variety, players can look forward to a nice mix of online tournaments, a wide range of cash game stakes, and, in all likelihood, BetMGM Poker’s staple SPINS – a hugely popular sit & go variation featuring a random jackpot.
It is also likely that BetMGM Poker RI will come out of the gate swinging, offering a generous welcome bonus. With what’s likely to be heavy competition in the state, all sites will look for ways to stand out, and this is generally a good thing for the players.
PokerStars Rhode Island
Although the company couldn’t enter the US before 2016, PokerStars has established itself as a staple name of online poker in the country, just like they have done in the global market.
Once the regulation is finally passed, the launch of PokerStars is pretty much a guarantee. This is especially true if the state passes a law with the expectation of joining the MSIGA, as the operator seems eager to take advantage of opportunities provided by interstate poker.
But even without that particular element, RI is a big enough market on its own.
What PokerStars brings to the table is the operator’s experience in organizing major online series, first and foremost. US versions of ‘COOP events have been hugely successful in all states where the site currently has a presence, and there is no reason to think Rhode Island would be an exception.
PokerStars also offers one of the best software solutions for desktop computers and mobile devices alike. This enhances the player experience and certainly helps push the site towards the top of the list when deciding where to play.
WSOP Rhode Island
The third RI poker site likely to go live as soon as legal requirements are met is WSOP.com. Right now, WSOP is the only operator present in all regulated US markets with active poker sites, and the company is on the constant lookout for expansion opportunities.
WSOP.com has one trump card that no other operators can match, which is its ability to host bracelet-awarding events and exclusive satellites to live World Series of Poker tournaments. This has helped the operator remain competitive across the country.
A launch in a new state would likely mean an exclusive bracelet series, giving players in the state great opportunities to win some WSOP silverware from the comfort of their home, and if past experience is any indicator, this is an opportunity that players jump on.
WSOP should have no problem claiming its fair share of the new market despite competitors, with the operators’ numbers surging during major live and online events.