New bill proposes raising gambling age to 21


The thrill of the bet and the action from the game hall is all part of the draw of gambling.

Should that rush be reserved for those 21 and up?

State Rep. Deborah Fellela thinks so, especially now that Twin River is expanding.

She said it’s imperative Rhode Island raises the gambling age from 18 to 21, just like neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“I just feel that some of those minimum bets are $10 a shot and that’s an expensive night for an 18 year old who may not even be working, may be going to college or finishing high school,” said Fellela, D-Johnston.

The bill covers gambling at casinos, slot parlors and where there is pari-mutual betting like on horses or dogs. Penalties include monetary fines and possibly the suspension of an offender’s driver’s license.

“Let’s face it, gambling can be really addictive and if they get that win-win feeling, who knows what will come of it really,” Fellela said.

Most people NBC 10 spoke to agreed.

“I think it’s a good age because if they have that law for drinking at 21 why not for gambling as well?” said Omayra Perez of Providence.

“If they raise the age to do that I think they’re going to help a lot of people by not getting in trouble or getting addicted to gambling,” said Jesus Nieves, of Providence.

Thomas Parisi, who attends school in Providence, said he was in favor of the change.

“It could get kids in trouble,” he said.

While the bill would increase the gambling age at casinos, it would still allow 18 year olds to go into stores and purchase scratch lottery tickets.

“I’m guessing if they’re going to change the law they should change the law all around, not just for the casinos,” Nieves said.

“It’s pretty much gambling with scratch tickets too, so all across the board,” Parisi said.

For now, Fellela said she’s focusing on getting the current bill approved. But if there’s enough support, she said she’s willing to raise the gambling age across the board.

NBC 10 contacted Twin River, which declined to comment on the bill.

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