Newport Grand City Agreement Negated

Talk about short-sighted – the reason why communities make agreements with proposed casinos is to get the additional revenue.  Is there no povery in Newport?  No needs for helping education?  No financial needs at all?  (How about the bridge?)

The Newport Grand slots parlor would become a “Monte Carlo-style” boutique casino, shown above in a rendering by John Grosvenor of Northeast Collaborative Architects. The process to bring the $40-million proposal to a statewide and local referendum in November formally begins later this month with the Newport City Council. New features proposed for the refurbished building are labeled at the top. The existing slot parlor, where table games would be added if voters approve, is on the first floor on the left side of the main building.

Last week,  the Newport City Council rejected a “host-city agreement” that would have put $1 million from Newport Grand into city coffers.  That’s how much politics are forcing the Newport future once again.  Don’t they remember it was wrong information by a vocal few that took revenue away last time,  denying table games two years ago?

The developer, Joseph Paolino Jr., is  proposing an expansion of the gambling parlor and said he would contribute the money to a jobs-creation project.  But, the City Council voted 4 to 3 to reject the agreement it had negotiated with a partnership headed by Mr.. Paolino, who has proposed a $40-million facelift for Newport Grand along with the addition of table games at Newport Grand, which currently has slot machines only. The proposal goes before statewide and local voters on Nov. 4.

According to Kathy Borchers of the Providence Journal, the agreement would have provided the city with a $1 million payment, along with other benefits, including preference for Newport residents in hiring for casino jobs, preference for Newport vendors in purchasing supplies and removal of the large “slots” sign on the building within 30 days of voters approving the project.

Paolino told The Providence Journal that he believes casino opponents are a vocal minority who have rattled council members.  That’s deja vu all over again!

Paolino also said the following:

  1. he will still abide by the agreement including the jobs and vendors preferences and removal of the sign.
  2. the money that would have been a $1 million payment to the city had the agreement been approved will instead be contributed to the Newport North End Innovation Hub,  creating a research and technology park on about 40 acres near the end of the Pell Bridge, creating up to 1,200 jobs.
  3. $1 million would be matching funds — for every dollar the city spends on the project from its general fund he would contribute a dollar, up to the $1 million.
  4. he will donate at least $25,000 a year to Newport charities.

In May, the City Council voted to ask the General Assembly to place a question on the November ballot to ask voter approval of table games. At the same time, according to Paolino, the council asked him to negotiate the host city agreement that it rejected.

Paolino has an agreement to buy Newport Grand from its current owners, contingent on voter approval of table games.

It all seems to come down to the November vote – not just table games and expansion for Newport Grand, but the life or death of Newport Grand.

It just doesn’t seem a fare chance of fate due to a few vocal in the minority.




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