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Playing Online Poker in the State of Rhode Island

Map of Rhode Island

Flag of Rhode Island

Online poker in Rhode Island is a subject of interest for people in the state who enjoy card games. You can play over the internet from within the Ocean State without any fear that you're breaking the law. All of the penalties against unlicensed gambling refer to betting in physical locations or actually operating a gambling establishment. You, as a private individual, can partake in Rhode Island online poker on your computer at your home without worry. There are several offshore sites that are ready to accept you as a customer, so you have plenty of choice when it comes to places to play online.

There is a cardroom at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, but it holds only 16 tables. Rather than traveling, parking your car, and waiting around for a seat to open up in a game that catches your eye, why not head online and get your fill of poker action whenever you want? You won't have to buy overpriced casino food or pay the exorbitant live rake either.

Some people think that the Wire Act criminalizes online poker at the federal level. This is not the case; a 2011 Department of Justice letter states that this statute only applies to betting on sports. Thus, the enforcement provisions of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 are wholly irrelevant when discussing online poker.

This means that it's up to Rhode Island to determine its stance on internet poker much as other states do. While existing state laws take a dim view of unlicensed gaming activity, the bulk of the legislation is directed at penalizing those who actually run the games, not regular players. You have nothing to fear personally from the RI legal regime as long as you play for your own pleasure and profit without running a gambling enterprise yourself.

Premier Rhode Island Online Poker Sites

With dozens of internet gambling locations to choose from, the prospect of identifying a trustworthy online cardroom may seem like too much effort for too little reward. Fortunately, we've partnered with some of the top organizations in the industry to bring you the action you crave without subjecting you to irritating software glitches, unwarranted payment delays, or bizarre terms and conditions. Choose any of the poker rooms on our list, and you'll be treated to the kind of solid gameplay experience that you seek.

Ignition

Ignition Poker Logo

The largest poker site open to Rhode Islanders is also probably the one with the easiest tables. This is because there are no screennames in the cash games or tournaments at Ignition Poker. Instead, all individuals are referred to solely by a player number that contains no identifying information. Therefore, it's impossible to track particular players and get a bead on how they play on a long-term basis. This innovation has attracted countless recreational and amateur poker players to the games at Ignition, which is part of the PaiWangLuo Network.

New depositors at Ignition can claim a 100% up to $1,000 bonus that releases at a rate equal to 30% of SNG and tourney fees paid. In ring games, this rate of clearance is a bit less. The great thing about this bonus is that the first segments of it deliver their value at a higher rate, which tapers off as you near the final portions of the full $1,000 value. It's thus a superior deal for those who can only deposit a little bit of money.

Cash games at Ignition mostly consist of No Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha at stakes of between $0.02/$0.05 and $10/$20. There's some Limit Hold'em, Limit Omaha-8, and PLO-8 running too, but reports suggest that traffic in these games has decreased by a considerable amount ever since Ignition switched over to a Quick Seat method of adding players to tables. Ignition is the only poker site in the U.S. market that's currently offering fast-fold poker, which it calls Zone Poker. In Zone, you move to a new table and get new cards whenever you fold your hand, which makes it much faster-paced than normal poker cash games.

SNGs can be found with buyins starting at $1 + $0.05 and going up to $200 + $14. Most of the common varieties that you would expect to find are present, and in addition, there are double-up and triple-up contests that most other sites don't bother hosting.

There's quite an active multi-table tournament lobby at Ignition. The biggest weekly event is a $100,000 guaranteed tourney that's held Sunday afternoon and costs $150 + $12 to enter, but there are plenty of other tourneys throughout the week that have sizeable guarantees. The overwhelming bulk of these competitions are freezeouts that don't allow either late registration or R&As, so you won't have to sit for a whole day and wait as the last stragglers jump into the game. On top of this solid regular schedule, Ignition runs a couple of tournament series a year that distribute millions of dollars to the lucky winners.

Mobile users can log into a responsive web app that features cash games, including Zone Poker, although tournaments and sit-and-goes are not present. As far as download poker clients are concerned, Ignition has both PC and Mac covered. Head on over to our Ignition Poker review for more details on this reputable gambling operator.

Winning Poker Network

Winning Poker Logo

The Winning Poker Network consists of several sites that pool their players together to create the second-largest poker room available to Americans. The flagship site is Americas Cardroom, which provides new customers with a 100% up to $1,000 bonus, $50 to try out Jackpot Poker SNGs, and the choice of Elite Benefits rewards or 27% rakeback. Part-time or low-stakes players are best off with the rakeback deal whereas serious grinders at mid and high stakes may obtain superior returns from the Elite Benefits program.

The welcome bonus delivers returns of 20% of the cash game rake and tournament fees you pay. What's great about this bonus is that it can be released whenever you want in increments of $1 as long as you've contributed the required amount of rake. Regular players will also see considerable profit from The Beast leaderboard for cash games and Sit & Crush for sit-n-goers. Both of these weekly rake races pay out hundreds of places.

The ring tables at ACR include micro-stakes down to $0.01/$0.02, but what sets this room apart from its competitors are the high-blind tables. This is where the ballers come to play for serious dough at NLHE up to $25/$50, PLO at the same stakes, LHE as high as $30/$60, and LO8 up to a stratospheric $75/$150. These vertiginous games aren't always populated, but they tend to run several times per week.

The Winning Poker Network has a selection of SNGs covering the gamut from $1.50 + $0.12 through $1,200 + $15, but you may find the non-standard contests more appealing. The first of these is Jackpot Poker, a three-handed lottery-style match with a buyin multiplier that can reach as high as 2,500. The other unique single-table tournament is Sit & Go 2.0, a nine-max game with payouts that can grow based upon the unpredictable outcome of a pre-game round.

Americas Cardroom has been making a strong push to become the number one poker tournament site in the United States. The $200 + $15 Sunday Special ($150,000 Guaranteed) and the identically priced Sunday Special PLO ($35,000 Guaranteed) are both the largest Sunday Major MTTs in their respective game formats available to Americans. Once every few months, there's a Million Dollar Sunday, a $500 + $40 affair that has a seven-figure prize pool. Recurring Online Super Series give participants a chance to compete for millions of dollars in prizes across dozens of events.

Americas Cardroom is compatible with Windows systems only although there is a Mac client in public beta. Signing up at Americas Cardroom is easy, or you can try one of its sister sites: BlackChip Poker, True Poker, PokerHost.

Chico Poker Network

BetOnline Logo

BetOnline and Sportsbetting.ag are the two Chico Poker Network sites that serve players from Rhode Island. Whichever one you elect to sign up for, you'll get a 100% up to $2,500 bonus, which is worth 33% of your rake back. There's additional money to be had from the three weekly leaderboards, which pay out thousands of dollars to the top ring game, sit-and-go, and tournament players. As you play, you'll receive comp points that can be exchanged for tournament entries worth about 5% of your rake.

The stakes for No Limit Texas Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha start at $0.01/$0.02 and top out at $5/$10. Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is the only other variant that sees any appreciable traffic, but it's offered at a more restrictive range of blind levels than the other two games. If you're a small to mid stakes NLHE fan, then check out the specially designated Bad Beat Jackpot tables at $0.50/$1.00 and higher. They do take an extra BBJ drop, but on the other hand, you could walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars like the last winner did.

Sit-N-Go action at Chico is surprisingly busy, with fee-free $0.05 contests at the low end and $500 + $25 heads-up matches awaiting your HU4Rollz challenges. The multi-table tourney lobby, however, doesn't have anything remotely approaching these heights. The flagship weekly major is a $90 + $9 Main Event with a $50,000 guaranteed prize pool, and the remainder of the tournaments have buyins of $30 + $3 or cheaper. The Main Event does get boosted up to $100 + $9 and a $100,000 minimum prize pool on the final Sunday of each month though.

BetOnline and Sportsbetting.ag both have download programs available for Windows and Mac machines. Additionally, there are mobile apps for users of iOS and Android. Read our reviews of these two rooms to find out more about them: Betonline review | Sportsbetting.ag review.

Intertops

Intertops Poker Logo

Intertops is a highly rated gambling organization that offers poker as one of its product lines. The Horizon Network, of which Intertops is the flagship site, isn't the largest internet poker destination in existence, but on the other hand, the promotional roster here is among the best in all of online poker.

To begin with, you'll get a 200% up to $1,000 bonus along with 36% dealt rakeback. The $4,000 weekly rakeraces will allow you to augment your bankroll even more. Frequent reload bonuses mean that your free money won't come to an end after you're done with the first deposit bonus, and a loyalty levels program gives additional rewards as you put in the hours at the tables.

Almost all of the cash games with people seated at them are in NL Hold'em at stakes of $0.25/$0.50 and below. The SNGs are a disappointment because they seldom run at levels higher than $15. Tournaments are a bit better although the majority of them are microstakes contests. There is a daily $50 + $5 Sundowner tourney that guarantees $1,500 most days and $2,500 on Sundays.

The best way to play at Intertops is with the desktop version of the software, which is only compatible with Windows. A web-based Instant Play version is offered for Macs and mobile devices, but it's far inferior to the standard software package. Create your Intertops account today to start collecting your promotional rewards.

Grand Poker Network

Grand Poker Network Logo

The Grand Poker Network is the smallest poker site on our list, so you may wish to treat it as a backup place to play rather than your main bread and butter. Developers have released poker clients for Mac, PC, and mobile. You can also access the games from any up-to-date web browser too.

Cash tables aren't present above $1/$2, and there are seldom more than a half dozen games active. The bulk of them are NLHE, but PLO runs sometimes too. Whatever stakes you do wind up playing, you'll probably find the games easier here than at similar tables on competing sites. Sit-and-goes rarely fill up. No tourneys exist above the $5 + $0.50 level, but Grand does provide some guaranteed events every day with no entrance fees levied by the house. So this is a fine place to call home if you're an aspiring tournament player. You can also enjoy a $500 freeroll every Sunday night for a chance at risk-free winnings.

Grand provides 50% RB paid weekly when you sign up through our links. Consult our page about the Grand Poker Network for thorough account creation instructions.

Poker Room Selection Guidelines

Poker Cards and Chips

Each of the poker solutions we've presented you with has different characteristics, and each one is ideal for a different type of player. There aren't any hard-and-fast commandments for choosing the right place to play for you personally, but we have come up with a few rules of thumb to give you some guidance in this matter.

If you like big bonuses and you cannot lie, then BetOnline/Sportsbetting.ag will keep you happy with a 100% up to $2,500 deal.

If your primary concern is to find a wealth of games going at a broad array of stakes, then Ignition or Americas Cardroom is probably ideal for you.

If you want to see sizeable rakeback payments hitting your account on a regular basis, then consider Intertops and Grand.

If fast-fold poker is what you're after, then Ignition is where you should go.

If lottery-style SNGs appeal to you, then Americas Cardroom and its Winning Poker Network partners are the only option that will satisfy you.

If you're searching for a place to play cards from your phone or tablet, then BetOnline/Sportsbetting.ag, Ignition, and Grand will wow you with their mobile apps.

If you want to pad your bottom line with a robust lineup of promotions, then Intertops and BetOnline/Sportsbetting.ag will help you do so.

Rhode Island Poker Funding and Payouts

Dollar Bill

All of the sites we recommend support deposits by credit cards, but there's a possibility that your card issuer will block transactions related to online gambling. When it's time to get your winnings, there are a variety of cashout processors available, but many of them take a long time and come with fees. For the best results, we advise you to use Bitcoin both for deposits and withdrawals. It takes a little bit of work to get started with this cryptocurrency, but the advantages more than outweigh your initial investment in time. Take a look at our Bitcoin guide for novices to educate yourself on the intricacies of this digital payment method.

Rhode Island Internet Poker Laws

Book

The Rhode Island laws don't contain language specifically addressing the legality of poker games played over the internet. Thus, we have to examine the statutes that relate to gambling in general if we wish to glean any wisdom regarding the state's stance on online poker. The applicable area of Rhode Island general laws is § 11 - 19, “Gambling and Lotteries.” The section defining the prohibited games is § 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).

 

Whoa, that's a lot of verbiage to wade through. Fortunately, it's pretty straightforward despite its length. The first part of this section clearly states that it's only those who are running or organizing games of chance who are in violation of the law. The second portion of this behemoth sentence is an oddly worded definition of gambling that seems to include poker among the list of prohibited activities. The word “poker” can't be found in that text, but it's so worded that card games are almost certainly included.

The final words set out the penalty of no more than two years in prison or a fine of $2,000 or less. It's clear that these punishments aren't doled out to regular players but rather to those who are actually engaged in promoting or operating a prohibited activity. You're totally in the clear if you want to play poker online unless you're somehow trying to convince others to play or advertising for a particular site.

§ 11 - 19 - 18 is another weirdly thorough section dealing with “Keeping of gambling places or devices – Acting as dealer, banker, or lookout.” It prohibits people from using certain physical structures, like buildings, tents, and even rafts, to host casino games. Once again, the law targets people who intend to offer games of chance for profit rather than the participants in those games.

The only provision of the RI laws that appears to affect individual players is § 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.

 

Fortunately, this section deals with visiting physical gambling establishments, not playing online from inside your own home. You have nothing to fear from this law.

The remainder of § 11 - 19, “Gambling and Lotteries,” is mostly about regulated types of gambling, including lotteries, search warrants, forfeiture of gambling machinery, and other similar topics. These elements aren't really relevant to what we're discussing today.

History of Gambling in Rhode Island

In colonial days, settlers in Rhode Island would often fund the construction of civic buildings through the sale of lotteries. This was seen as an acceptable way to promote community goals without raising taxes. However, the state was caught up in a wave of moral reformism in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, and these lotteries along with all other forms of gambling were banned. The evidence suggests, however, that a lot of gambling was taking place in the shadows, and state officials mostly turned a blind eye to it. In the 1920s, though, the anti-gambling laws began to be seriously enforced probably as a result of organized crime stepping into the picture.

The first crack in this façade came in May 1934 with the approval of pari-mutuel horse and greyhound betting. Narragansett Park duly opened for horseracing just a few months later although it and all other racing facilities in the state have since been shuttered.

Narragansett Park

Narragansett Park Race Track in Pawtucket During the '50s.


The RI lottery began in 1973. Charitable gambling followed in 1979. For a long time, public opinion in Rhode Island was against opening up casinos. In the early '90s, neighboring Connecticut saw the rise of Foxwoods, which pulled in millions of dollars a year. Perhaps hoping to claim a piece of this gambling pie, Rhode Islanders gave the OK for video terminals containing blackjack and video poker to be installed at the state's two racetracks in 1992 along with keno betting.

These limited forms of gambling were a far cry from what a modern casino has to offer, and a decline in racing revenues spurred a desire on the part of the owners to add more types of gaming. In 2012, by which time all racing activity had ceased, residents voted to allow table gaming at two venues: Twin River Casino and Newport Grand Casino. In 2015, Twin River opened up a poker room, and it remains the only physical location within Rhode Island where real-money poker is permitted.

Today, Rhode Island's citizens can play slots and table games at either of the two casinos. Betting on horse races held outside the state is also possible. The state lottery sells tickets and operates video keno machines, and charitable gaming events can be found once in a while. The only place to play brick-and-mortar poker remains Twin River Casino in Lincoln, but a new casino is expected to open up in Tiverton in 2018, and it may feature a cardroom.

Prospects for Regulated Online RI Poker

Rhode Island is very densely populated, but the smallness of the area it encompasses makes this fact mostly irrelevant. With just over 1 million people calling the state home, a Rhode Island-centric licensed poker market makes little sense. Only through interstate compacts to share player pools, like the one signed by Nevada and Delaware, could this tiny state hope to accomplish anything by licensing and regulating local online poker sites. Even if the demand were there, many legislative hurdles would have to be cleared before any state-backed proposal for providing online poker would go live. Cutting a long story short, it's very unlikely that there will be any type of legalized online poker scene in Rhode Island for a long time to come.

Parting Thoughts

The laws on the books regarding gambling in Rhode Island are quite severe and voluminous. However, they don't treat the subject of online poker in Rhode Island at all, and anyway, they're meant to punish people who run gambling games rather than those who participate in them. There's no reason why you can't find an honest Rhode Island online poker site and start making your virtual bets, calls, and raises today.

Rhode Island State Seal Divider

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

If you are lucky enough to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family home, etc, you may have other online poker options available to you. Here are a list of the states that border Rhode Island and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Connecticut, Massachusetts