Is Online Poker Legal in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island, often referred to as the ‘Ocean State’ is the smallest state in the country, however, it is the second biggest when it comes to populous. Some of the most striking scenery in Rhode Island is the fantastic array of bays around the area. As you can probably guess, as one of the original thirteen states that decided to declare independence from British rule, there is a lot of history in this small area. Despite its small size however, it takes a rather stringent approach to gambling legislation. Let’s take a look.
The gambling laws of Rhode Island are somewhat shrouded in mystery. In fact, it is very hard to decipher what exactly constitutes gambling within the state. This is the best definition that can be found in legislation:
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). 
Gambling is defined in further legislation as this:
“Gambling” includes, but is not limited to, pool-selling, bookmaking, maintaining slot-machines, roulette wheels or dice tables, and conducting lotteries, Policy, Bolita, or numbers games or selling chances in them. 
Seem clearer to you? Well, sadly it isn’t as clear as it may seem. This is an incredibly broad definition and the courts are constantly adding new aspects to this. For example, did you know that poker is classed as a lottery? I didn’t either until the courts decided it was. Therefore, it should be assumed that any game of chance where money is staked is gambling in the eyes of the Rhode Island legislature
Casinos and Live Poker
There are no commercial casinos located within Rhode Island, technically although there are a number of buildings which have evolved into something similar. Although you will not be able to play poker at any of them as it is defined as a lottery and thus ‘illegal’.
Social gaming when it comes to poker is allowed, however, the person running the session is at risk of criminal prosecution, and charges have actually been brought for this, although of course these are in the ‘higher stake’ games. It is unlikely that somebody engaging in social poker would be caught, but it isn’t really worth the risk.
As with most forms of gambling in the state, this is completely illegal and thus nobody should be participating in it. However, players may be able to get away with it if the websites are located out of state.
In the past it has been suggested that the idea of ‘online gambling’ would take place, although this has yet to materialize. From that I can tell, the residents of Rhode Island aren’t too fussed about introducing gambling to the state, and they have been asked to vote numerous times too. If you are a resident of Rhode Island, don’t hold out too much hope!