PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island town is asking a judge to quickly decide whether the state should have sought voter approval before legalizing and launching sports betting.
Republican activist Daniel Harrop sued over sports betting in May. Harrop wants sports betting to stop, pending a statewide referendum. Rhode Island is the only New England state currently offering sports betting.
The town of Tiverton requested a quick ruling this week, stating that the complaint raises constitutional issues of significant public interest that should be resolved by the court at the earliest possible time, according to The Providence Journal .
Tiverton is home to one of the state’s two Twin River casinos that offer sports betting. The town of Lincoln, which is home to the other casino, has not gotten involved with the case.
The towns each receive $100,000 annually from sports betting, plus revenue generated from the other casino operations. Tiverton didn’t take a position on the constitutional issue.
Lawyers for the state lottery and Twin River argue that Harrop isn’t hurt by sports betting and lacks standing to sue. Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, of North Providence, has said he was advised that voters approved sports betting when they approved casino gambling.
Harrop’s lawyer, Joe Larisa, said Tuesday that even if the judge agrees that Harrop lacks standing, Tiverton’s request for a ruling will probably keep the case going. Harrop has said he’s not opposed to gambling - he said he decided to sue over sports betting while playing roulette at a Rhode Island casino. The state constitution requires voter approval for any expansion of gambling and the state could ask voters before his lawsuit would likely conclude, he said.
The lottery plans to launch mobile sports betting next week.
Since the late November launch of sports betting, gamblers have wagered nearly $128,000 in Rhode Island and nearly $121,000 was paid out on winning bets, according to the state lottery. The state gets 51% of the $7 million profit after expenses are subtracted.
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