An artists rendering of the Tiverton Casino/ Hotel.

Rhode Island Has two casinos at this time, Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Newport Grand in Newport, RI.

It has always seemed that both Rhode Island casinos have flown under the radar in New England – TR without a hotel, and Newport with a seemingly death sentence in a year. To combat the competition from three sides in two states, Twin River Management group decided to improve it’s status in the region.

A BRIEF LOOK BACK

Originally built for greyhound racing, Twin River Casino is now a full casino.
Originally built for greyhound racing, Twin River Casino is now a full casino.

Lincoln Downs opened on July 7, 1947 – a dog racing track, accommodated 5,800 spectators in the grandstand, plus 2,000 more in the clubhouse and turf club.  Off-track parimutuel betting was approved, only to be diminished by the opening of Foxwoods in CT, 1992.  From that point, this property has fought for relevancy.  In 2007, after being bought by BBL Investors, (and being ignored by large casino industry reps MGM Mirage & Kerzner International) casino expansion included more gaming space, new amenities, and an Event Center, making the casino one of the top 5 largest casinos in the nation. Finding the battle with the CT casinos a tough climb, table games were approved by the legislature in 2012.  (Newport Grand was not approved for table games by the locals).

Which now all leads up to the latest news.

After the construction of Plainridge Park in Massachusetts as their first Mass. Casino two years ago, Twin River saw a slight dip in revenue and gamblers, but nothing to worry the present ownership, Twin River Management Group (TRMG). After all, they had plans of their own.

Here was the battle plan:

  • Buy Newport Grand – providing for future plans
  • Build a hotel – to attract gamblers to stay on property, attracting more out-of-state patrons.
  • Relocate Newport Grand to a new Hotel/Casino in Tiverton, RI. – offering a quick gambling option for southeast MA & RI.

HOTEL DELAY

Construction of a steel structure has begun on a parking garage, as well as the main casino building and hotel.  The casino and hotel are both now expected to be ready by Oct. 1, 2018.

DOUBLE THE COST

The estimated cost could reach $140 million, which almost double the original estimate of $75 million. The increase in cost is attributed to excavating the challenging topography in the area and changing plans to add an underground parking structure and making the casino floor 10,000 square feet larger.Chloe Leshner of ABC6 News, “The Twin River Management group says they had to nearly double their budget with plans to now invest $140 million into the hotel and casino that will replace the Newport Grand Casino. Obstacles with the land forcing project managers to change some of the plans, like building a parking garage instead of a flat lot. They say these adjustments address the environmental concerns many citizens had about the casino originally.” All of these changes are driving up the final price tag.  “The cost of this is born entirely by twin river management group, we received no state subsidies and no tax payer dollars are being used,” says John Taylor with Twin River Management Group.

 

WINDOW CLOSING?

NETG predicts they need to pursue an earlier opening, like Spring of 2018, if they want to also compete with MGM Springfield’s expected opening.  Plainridge is already showing signs of increasing a base of loyal gamblers, with the connection to Marquee Rewards of Penn National Gaming, providing more opportunities across the country.  TRMG only has the two properties in RI connected and lack a national appeal.  MGM Springfield large presence in New England provides even more opportunities for national visits through its MLife Rewards. Time is of the essence.  Rhode Island needs to blast through these setbacks if they tryly want a piece of the New England Gambling Pie, or only crumbs will be left.Binbin

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