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Rhode Island State Lotteries Laws

Most states now have an official lottery, offering players the possibility of winning cash or other prizes through various games of chance. State lottery laws outline the types of games allowed, rules and restrictions, age limits, how the revenue is used, and other aspects of running a statewide sweepstakes. State lotteries are a way to raise revenue without raising tax rates, and they are often presented as a fundraising tactic for K-12 education or some other popular cause. However, the reality is that many state lotteries simply transfer the revenue into the general fund.

A lottery usually consists of games where the contestant chooses numbers for a jackpot drawing -- typically in the millions of dollars -- along with scratch-off tickets that offer the chance to instantly win smaller sums of cash. All contestants have an equal shot at winning, but the odds of winning large jackpots (often in the tens of millions of dollars) are extremely thin.

Rhode Island State Lottery Law at a Glance

The official lottery in Rhode Island actually has no stated funding purpose and the statute calls for all revenue (minus prizes, expenses, etc.) to be deposited into the general fund. The law requires 25 percent of the revenue (15 percent for keno) to go toward the general fund. In addition to weekly drawings and scratch-off tickets, the Rhode Island lottery offers video lottery and keno games.

A constitutional amendment in 1973 ushered in the formation of the Rhode Island State Lottery, beginning the next year. According to the lottery's Website, it has raised nearly $2 billion (as of 2015) and "shared by all 39 cities and towns throughout the state."

The following chart provides additional details about state lottery laws in Rhode Island.

Code Section 42-61-1, et seq.
Distribution of Lottery Revenue 45-65% prize fund (keno 45-72%) less expenses; 25% (15% for keno) to general revenue fund (different percentages for video lottery games)
Additional Purpose of Lottery -
Lottery Prize Subject to Garnishment For prizes over $600, set-off for unpaid child support arrearages over $500
Time Limit to Claim Prize/Disposition 1 year/reverts to lottery fund
Prohibited Related Activities Sales above fixed price; sales to minors; altered /forged tickets

Note: State laws may change at any time through the enactment of newly signed legislation, higher court rulings, and other means. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a Rhode Island gaming attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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