Rhode Island Poker Laws

A Guide to Poker in the State of Rhode Island

Rhode Island Gambling Laws is Connecticut, with Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, and Massachusetts who have already passed legislation and now are waiting on casinos to be constructed. Apart from this the only real choice for poker players is to play on the offshore online sites.

In this guide to poker in Rhode Island you can first see an overview of gambling in the State. Next you will find an overview of the laws specifically relating to poker. After that you can find out if there are any options to play live in Rhode Island – before you’ll find information looking at how online poker is regarded here.

A Brief Overview of Gambling in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has had a strange relationship with all types of gambling, partially due to a lack of foresight on the part of the State government. One area where they were front runners was the televising of lottery draws, one form of gambling that has remained popular here, along with Keno games.

Charity gambling is allowed, however games are now limited to bingo and raffles. Rhode Island once had horse racing until competition from Massachusetts forced the tracks to shut. Meanwhile greyhound racing remains available.

Casinos have only just been legalized in 2010, although licenses are subject to county approval. Twin River casino has been opened since 2013 and currently spreads some table games, unfortunately not poker.

Is Poker Legal in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island gambling legislation is a rich mixture of words that covers the subject broadly. The best paragraph to pin it down is Section 11-51-1(a):

“‘Gambling’ includes, but is not limited to, pool-selling, bookmaking, maintaining slot-machines, roulette wheels or dice tables, and conducting lotteries, Policy, Bolita, or numbers games or selling chances in them”

The wide ranging text has resulted in separate court cases interpreting the law and games it applies to in different ways. In one example a court even classed poker as a lottery. There have been enough poker cases now where the precedent has been set and poker is included as gambling, so it would be hard to argue otherwise.

Where in Rhode Island can you play Live Poker?

Unfortunately there is no live poker in the casinos of Rhode Island. The best bet is for players to hop over the border and join the numerous games available at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun. It may mean a short trip although it is well worth it to play in these excellent resorts which offer a full range of cash games, local tournaments and major poker events.

With no carve-out for social games in Rhode Island, home games are also classed as being illegal. Any game for real money would fall into this, no matter how small the stakes were. That being said, no small home games have been broken up. It can therefore be assumed either these games do not run in Rhode Island or the authorities have better things to do.

No charity poker games exist here as poker is not among the authorized games.

Online Poker in Rhode Island

It is assumed online poker is covered by the existing laws and given the anti-poker nature of the State. No one has legally challenged this. Until pro-gambling politicians step forward, with the backing of a major gaming corporation, it seems unlikely online poker will become regulated in Rhode Island.

For those players who still choose to play online in Rhode Island, you can find the offshore poker rooms where you can enjoy games with players from all over the US and the world. These sites can still operate as they are legal in their home countries and argue that free trade laws give them the right to provide games to US citizens. While there have been no arrests for playing online you do so at your own risk.

In Summary – Rhode Island Poker

Unfortunately for residents there is simply no completely legal way to enjoy the game of poker within Rhode Island’s borders. You could choose to risk running a home game or playing online, although for the safest and best experience you are better off travelling up to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun. 

Given the state of live poker there is no surprise that online poker regulation is not on the agenda and will not be coming to Rhode Island for a long time.