Rhode Island


The State of Rhode Island is one that does not mess around with respect to operators of any form of illegal gambling. In the state, doing such constitutes a felony and can result in up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000:

Gambling and Lotteries

§ 11-19-1 Forms of gambling prohibited.

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, except as authorized in this chapter and in title 41 and chapters 61 and 61.2 of title 42, shall be deemed guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned not exceeding two (2) years or be fined not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000).

Bookmaking also carries with it a separate penalty in the state and while the fine (up to $500) is lesser, the potential prison sentence (up to five years) is much more serious.

Frequenting an unlawful gambling place can also result in jail time of up to thirty days:

§ 11-19-21 Frequenting gambling place.

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.

In the meantime, there do not seem to be any penalties specifically for players who are merely playing online.  

While Rhode Island is a small state, it is no stranger to unlawful gambling arrests. One example comes from earlier this year during which a raid conducted on a restaurant resulted in the arrests of sixteen people mostly for illegal bookmaking and/or conspiracy.

There was a related raid of a home in connection with the above arrest as the bookmaking was centered around an internet site.

There was a similar but unrelated arrest for illegal bookmaking and keeping of a gambling place involving nine individuals within the same week.

Thirteen people were arrested two years ago with ties to an illegal bookmaking operations.

However, it should come as no surprise that we could turn up no instance of individual players being arrested for gambling online because it simply doesn’t happen.

Rhode Island has penalties in place for unlawful gambling, mainly by way of their, ‘Frequenting a place of gambling,’ law, but there do not appear to be any laws directed specifically at online gambling and it would be difficult to determine which of the existing statutes such a charge would even fall under. Therefore, we conclude that the restrictiveness is, ‘Light,’ for players because there is nothing in the law specifically saying being merely a player is a defense.


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