Bally's Closer to Giving Gamblers More Credit in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island House of Representatives has passed a pair of bills that propose to double the credit limit at the state's two Bally's casinos. The approval, which took place on Tuesday evening, moves the casino operator within inches of being able to give gamblers up to $100,000 in credit.

The sign outside the Bally's Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort in Rhode Island. (Source: WJAR)

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The House gave a decisive 57-11 vote in favor of the House bill, while the similar Senate bill saw a close 55-11 vote. This decision is expected to have a substantial impact on the operations of the casinos, potentially increasing revenue and altering the financial dynamics of gambling in the state.

Related: Bally's Hopes to Double Gambling Credit Limit at Rhode Island Casinos

The passage of these bills comes after a rigorous debate among legislators, stakeholders, and the public. Advocates for the bill argue that the increase in credit limits will attract high-stakes gamblers, boost tourism and generate additional tax revenue for the state. On the other hand, opponents have raised concerns about the potential for increased problem gambling and the financial risks associated with higher credit limits. Despite these concerns, the majority of the House deemed the potential economic benefits to outweigh the risks.

The Senate had already shown support for the credit increase by passing its bill on June 6. The bills now await the governor's signature, which, if granted, will bring the proposed changes into effect. Should Governor Dan McKee sign the bills into law, Bally's Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally's Tiverton Casino & Hotel will be authorized to extend significantly higher lines of credit to their customers.

Proponents of the bill, including Bally's, argue that it's necessary to keep Rhode Island's casinos competitive with neighboring states. They point out that Massachusetts has no credit limit on gambling lines of credit, while Connecticut's tribal casinos also lack such restrictions.

The legislation includes provisions for vetting potential high rollers before extending credit. Borrowers would be subject to an application process that takes into account factors such as personal income and credit history. This aims to ensure that only individuals who can demonstrably afford such a significant line of credit would be eligible.

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Pros Outweigh the Cons

The proposal has also drawn criticism. Concerns were raised during the House debate about the potential for increased problem gambling. Representative Patricia Morgan expressed worries that a higher credit limit could lead to devastating financial consequences for some gamblers. She argued for stricter measures to be implemented alongside the increased borrowing capacity, suggesting accreditation as a potential safeguard.

The House-passed bills will now head back to the Senate for a concurrence vote. This is because the House approved the Senate bill from Sen. Ciccone, rather than solely focusing on Costantino's legislation. If the Senate concurs with the minor changes made by the House, the bill would then be sent to Gov. McKee's desk for his signature.

The implications of these bills are far-reaching, according to their supporters, that extend beyond the immediate financial benefits for the casinos. There is a potential for job creation, as increased casino activity may necessitate additional staff. Furthermore, the state's economy could see a positive effect from the increased flow of money through the casinos.


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