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Rhode Island Lotteries

On 6 November 1973, Rhode Island voters passed a constitutional amendment to authorize a lottery in the state by a wide margin. Legislation was passed by the General Assembly in March 1974 and tickets for the first game, The Lot, went on sale on 21 May 1974. In January 1975, Rhode Island was the first state to televise a live lottery drawing and televise a weekly lottery program. The Rhode Island Lottery Commission was established to oversee the lottery system, which quickly became the state's largest revenue source. In July 2005, the Commission was eliminated and replaced by the Division of Lotteries, which moved to the Rhode Island Department of Revenue a year later.

The Lottery currently offers a variety of games including instant games, draw games, keno and VLTs (through pari-mutuel licensees).

Lottery tickets must be purchased at an authorized RI Lottery retailer and cannot be purchased by phone, by mail or on the internet. VLT retailers are mandated to pay annually a minimum of $100,000 in total for problem gambling programs established by the Lottery Division. The contribution from each facility is determined by the Lottery Division.

By rule, revenues from the RI Lottery are distributed so that 67.9% goes back to the players as prizes, 18.3% is transferred to the state general fund, 13.2% is paid in retailer commissions and 0.6% is used for lottery operations and other costs. Retailer commissions are set at 5% on instant game tickets, 8% on online games, 1% of the prize value of instant tickets validated at the retailer location, and 1% of the prize value of validated instant tickets of $1,000 or more sold at the retailer location.

If a player is awarded a prize of $600 or more, the state checks with the Department of Human Services for child support arrearages, the Department of Labor and Training for benefit overpayments, and the Tax Administrator for taxes owed of $500 or more by the winner. If a debt is owed, the Lottery deducts the amount owed from the winnings in priority order as listed above.

On 14 October 2012, bingo returned to the Lottery with Bingo on the Go. Bingo is sold at retail locations, some of which have television monitors that display a new drawing every eight minutes. For each bingo game a player chooses the wager amount ($1, $2, $5 or $10), selects the number of boards (1-3), and then selects the number of consecutive games to play (1-5). Total ticket cost for a game is calculated by multiplying the number of consecutive games by wager amount multiplied by number of boards. If a bingo game is played on a $3 wager with three boards for five consecutive games, the ticket cost is $45. The maximum wager for one game of bingo is $150. Bingo boards are randomly generated by the lottery terminal, which randomly prints a separate ticket for each consecutive game.

Although regulated by the Rhode Island Lottery, Casino City considers VLTs to be a casino and card room gaming activity.

In January 2018, State Rep. Charlene Lima announced a plan to introduce a bill permitting the sale of online lottery tickets, including scratch-offs.

In 2020, the Rhode Island Lottery started allowing its instant win games and keno to be played online as it launched iLottery.
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