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Rhode Island Poker Laws

Rhode Island PokerRhode Island is not a very friendly state when it comes to playing poker. Many residents from Rhode Island have turned to online poker because there are virtually no legal options for playing poker live within the state of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island is not an anti-gambling state. They actually have several outlets for legal gambling. Commercial casinos, state lottery, and charity bingo halls are found throughout the state of Rhode Island. Unfortunately for poker players, poker is not offered at the casinos or in any charity game.

Can Players From Rhode Island Play Poker Online?

Yes! Online poker opened up a whole new world to the residents of Rhode Island. There are several sites to choose from when it comes to playing online poker for the residents of Rhode Island. It is a very easy process to set an account up and begin playing poker online. You just need to sign up at a reputable site, make a deposit, and you will be ready to begin playing real money poker online within a matter of minutes.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Rhode Island?

The laws of Rhode Island are complicated. They have several laws pertaining to gambling in general, but they do not specifically address online poker in their laws. This leaves the legality of online poker up in the air in Rhode Island. Rhode Island has made no move to make online poker illegal, but that doesn’t mean it is legal either.

We have reviewed the laws pertaining to gambling in Rhode Island, and we have an overview of some of these laws that may pertain to playing poker online below:

Unlike most states, Rhode Island does not have a definition of gambling.

Prohibited gambling is defined as Every person who shall, directly or indirectly, set up, put forth, carry on, promote, or draw, publicly or privately, any lottery, chance, game, or device of any nature or kind whatsoever, or by whatsoever name it may be called, for the purpose of exposing, setting for sale or disposing of any money, houses, lands, merchandise, or articles of value, or shall sell or expose to sale lottery policies, purporting to be governed by the drawing of any public or private lottery, or shall sign or endorse any book, document, or paper whatsoever, for the purpose of enabling others to sell, or expose to sale, lottery policies (Section 11-19-1)

Running illegal gambling operations in Rhode Island comes with stiff penalties. It is considered a felony and is punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Rhode Island law goes on to list the punishment for a person that attends illegal gambling places Every person who shall frequent any gambling house or place where gaming is practiced or carried on, not in the performance of official duty and not being the landlord of that place entering to view the premises, shall be imprisoned not exceeding thirty (30) days. (Section 11-19-21) [1]

These are just a few of the many laws that Rhode Island has in place pertaining to gambling. After reviewing the laws of Rhode Island, the legality of online poker is even less clear than it was before we started looking at the laws. We highly suggest that you consult an attorney if you are concerned with the legality of playing poker online in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Gambling History

Gambling played a prevalent role in the history of Rhode Island for as far back as we can trace. Gambling wasn’t legal in the early days of Rhode Island, but law enforcement had a hard time enforcing the laws. Saloons around the states were known for their illegal gambling activities. It wasn’t long before the mob took over the gambling activities which made it even harder for law enforcement to enforce the laws.

In 1925, the state police was formed in Rhode Island and they began cracking down on the illegal gambling in the state. Illegal gambling establishments were raided and many people went to jail. This did calm the gambling activity in the state to some degree, but it definitely did not stop it.

It was obvious that many residents in Rhode Island wanted legalized gambling. It took many years for any gambling to be legalized in Rhode Island, but the first commercial gambling came in the form of the state lottery in 1974. Pari-mutuel betting on horse races and dog races were also legalized. The race tracks were allowed to offer further gambling in 1992 when the state authorized them to add gaming machines.

Many people have tried to get casinos for the state of the Rhode Island over the years. The efforts failed repeatedly until 2012. The voters voted to allow the Twin River Casino to add table games. The table games include some forms of poker like three card poker and paigow poker, but at this point traditional poker games are not offered. [2]

Legalized Gambling Options in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has many options for gambling within state today. It has come a long way over the past few years with the addition of table games to the casinos. Charity bingo, pari-mutuel betting on horse and dog races, slot games, and table games. Poker is about the only game that you can’t play legally in Rhode Island.

Will Rhode Island Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

Rhode Island has made no move to legalize online poker at this point. Rhode Island has legalized several land based gambling options within the last few years. This may be a good sign for online poker players. Rhode Island is a state that is tough to call so we really don’t know what they will do about the online poker issue.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Rhode Island Gambling Statutes
  2. Jump up ^ Rhode Island Gambling History
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