One of the smallest states in the entire country, Rhode Island can sometimes be an afterthought, but that doesn’t mean that it should be taken lightly. Rhode Islanders are a very proud group, and among many of their interests is poker. Yes, the state isn’t going to shock the world with the massive amount of poker being played, but it does have a desire to be involved, especially if the state continues on its plan to regulate online gambling as a whole. Let’s have a look at the poker market in Rhode Island.
Online Poker in Rhode Island
Rhode Islanders had the same options as players from all across the United States when the online poker industry started to grow in the early 2000s. Even though the state only boasts a population of just over one million, the massive poker games open to residents of the state allowed residents to play for millions of dollars from the comfort of their own homes. Sadly, the online poker boom was propped up by sites that were operating from outside the country, and finally, the U.S. government stepped in to eliminate these sites from the market in 2011.
Since then, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about if you are an online poker fan. However, since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018, Rhode Island is one of the first states to offer both land-based and online sports betting. This change in legislation could very lead to more comprehensive bills that add online poker as has happened in West Virginia and Michigan. Online poker players in Rhode Island should keep their fingers crossed.
Land Based Poker in Rhode Island
Another tough spot for Rhode Island poker players when the online industry started to crumble was that there were no legal live poker rooms in the state, forcing residents to travel to a neighboring state to get their Texas Hold’em or Omaha fix. This isn’t exactly the most convenient concept, so you can imagine how happy residents of the state were when they heard that one of the two casinos in the state, Twin River in Lincoln, was going to open a dedicate poker room in 2013. This gave life to the industry when it desperately needed it. The room hosts both cash games and small tournaments, and while it isn’t much, the influx of traffic to the sportsbook may help grow the live poker games at this facility.
Poker Training Tools
Despite the lack of real money poker options available to Rhode Islanders, there is no reason that players can’t continue to improve their games! Our Poker Guide section helps players understand the basics about all of the poker variants out there (our guess is that many of our readers haven’t played much more than Texas Hold’em) as well as some tips and tricks from our poker experts. There are some options for playing online that we outline below, which are great ways to put into practice some of the things you can learn from our site or from any of the poker training sites and books on the market today.
Social Poker in Rhode Island
As we said, even though there isn’t any real money online poker in Rhode Island right now doesn’t mean there isn’t poker to be played! One of the places that saw the biggest growth numbers in online poker over the last decade is social poker. These poker sites started on social networks like Facebook, giving players a chance to sit down with others from across the globe like in the old days of unregulated online poker in the U.S. Social poker allows players either to play for free at certain levels or to be able to buy chips to access higher levels of the games. While you can’t win any money with the chips you buy, think of the purchase as an investment in bettering your game. The quality of play at the higher stakes games is significantly better, giving you a chance to replicate to some degree what it would be like in a real money game.
Subscription Poker in Rhode Island
Thankfully for online poker players in Rhode Island, free play and social poker are not the only ways to access the game that everyone loves. A new business model emerged in the 2010s that would allow players to play for prizes in tournaments without attaching an entry fee to each event. This is the subscription model – paying one monthly fee for access to all the games – which turned the games into sweepstakes games according to the letter of the law. And with backers like the World Poker Tour involved, players in Rhode Island with dreams of playing in a WPT Main Event can try to qualify at their subscription site!
Online Poker in Rhode Island FAQ
Why is it taking so long to make online poker legal in Rhode Island when it is already legal in other states?
The speed at which a state changes its laws is different as you make your way across the country. Also, when it comes to gambling, a state will have its own level of comfort with the topic as it is one that can divide a voting base. Rhode Island does have land-based casinos and now has online sports betting, so that puts it in a much stronger position if online poker legislation is introduced, but the impact of online poker to the bottom line of the state’s revenues is not going to be enough to make it a priority. The best thing a resident of the state can do is reach out to a local government representative and start a dialogue on the topic.
If I find an offshore poker site to play with, can’t I just sign up with them?
Yes, nothing is stopping you from registering for an account with one of the few online poker sites based offshore that are still taking players from the U.S. However, the issue will be in trying to get money to the site – with the options very limited, you may find it very frustrating to make a deposit. And if you manage to win, the options for receiving funds is even more limited, especially working with a site with no legal reason to treat players fairly can make it as difficult as possible to get your money back. We don’t think it’s a great option, but if you are going to play then bear in mind the added risk of dealing in this grey market.