Newport Grand Slots, owned by Twin River Management Group, is now one step closer to moving north near the Massachusetts border. The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a bill Thursday to put a proposed Tiverton casino, aka Newport Grand Slots, on the November ballot.
According to Matt O’Brien of the Associated Press, “if voters in Tiverton and statewide approve the casino in November, the state would get 15.5 percent of proceeds from table games and 61 percent from video machines. The town of Tiverton, which has fewer than 16,000 people, would also keep a portion and be guaranteed at least $3 million a year, with the state picking up for any shortfall.”
Sounds like a good deal for both Twin River Casino and Tiverton. TW is worried that Plainridge Park Casino, and future Massachusetts Casino Projects close to them in Taunton, Brockton and even Everett will cut into their piece of “gambling revenue pie,” with good reason. Plainridge, while beginning to improve and increase it’s monthly revenue, has not yet been the threat that was expected. But if Twin River Management Group is able to move Newport Grand to Tiverton, they might be able to compete better. I’m eager to find out how TR does being the inside of “Mega-Casino sandwich” – between
Connecticut Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun, and the Mashpee’s “First Light” project in Taunton (if litigation doesn’t hold them up for years) and Wynn Everett (if litigation doesn’t continue to stop Steve Wynn’s progress).
While there are the usual anti-casino push-backs expected, Rhode Island is highly dependent on the revenue from gaming. While it may not be the best way to make predictable income for roads, schools, etc., moving
Newport Grand will help the Ocean State quicker than searching for a new source of revenue. The “evils” of gambling may have to be weathered or the small window of gambling courtship over the Massachusetts line will close quickly by 2018.
An editorial in the Providence Journal summed it up well by saying, “First, the proposed location — off Route 81 and just a few hundred yards from the Massachusetts border — is easily accessible and appears to be an outstanding one, much better than Newport. Second, according to Twin River’s estimates, the new facility could generate some $70 million a year for the state, if no competing casinos were built in Massachusetts. Even if there were a competing casino, the state would take in about $47 million a year — far more than the fading Newport Grand now produces. And it makes business sense for Twin River to run two casinos in the area, employing economies of scale.”
NETG says “Build it – before it’s too late.”