Newport Grand Casino – The Last Hurrah?

RI correspondent Miguel and I took a break from the July 4th celebration to visit the Newport Grand Slots casino in Newport, Rhode Island.

Yes, it’s small and it doesn’t take long to look around each floor. Yes, the outside looks more like a warehouse than a casino, but renovations over the years tried to keep the vision of a classy casino in Newport was kept alive. Before Twin River Management bought it over a year ago, it was a family operation – owned and managed by CEO Diane Hurley.

Quiet morning at Newport Grand

The building now known as Newport Grand has struggled to be more relevant in a city that never really wanted it there.  It’s recent past disappointments included:

  • The addition of tables games voted down by the city of Newport (at the time under Hurley ownership) while  Lincoln RI approved tables games for Twin River casino.
  • The renovation and expansion of Newport Grand, with table games denied by Newport. See our previous post covering this Newport Grand City Agreement Negated
  • Finally, TRM bought Newport with the intentions of moving operations to Tiverton as a new full casino with hotel to compete with Massachusetts casino expansion, namely Plainridge Park Racino just over the border in Plainville, MA.

According to staff, the facility should close by mid-summer of 2018.

Newport Grand entrance

Upon entering, we wondered if it was open.  We were greeted by friendly staff, received our rewards card, and we were on our way, basically having the place to ourselves.

It has 3 floors – a 2nd floor smoking-allowed slot area, 1st floor for non-smoking gaming and lower floor that includes some slots, the Grille, and a bar featuring standard and some RI craft brews.

Non smoking main floor

Did I mention it was small?  Listed as the third smallest of New England’s casinos, it just might be the smallest.  It was obvious to us that the 1000 slots couldn’t be a true number with three small rooms on the lower level unused and a more spacious main floor.

Upstairs smoking casino

GAMING – while they have many new slots, there is also a treasure trove of nostalgic machines, including many of the VLT from the Jai Alai transition days.  I counted 8 (yes, only 8) video poker machines, 6 multi-game with horrible pay tables and two Ultimate X. Don’t go to Newport Grand for video poker.  The best game offered is 7/5 DDB on Ultimate X.  There are also two of the older electronic Blackjack terminals, back to back, with a total of 10 seats.  We did not see a High Limit area, but higher denomination slots are mixed in.

Newport Grand Casino Event Center

Newport Grand Casino Event Center

ENTERTAINMENT – on the weekends, Newport Grand still offers great tribute bands with some comedy acts as well in the Event Center.  In the lounge downstairs, small combos still perform, as karaoke & trivia is still offered some week days.

CONCLUSION – We had a fun day at the casino on Independance Day.  But, it was a little sad, too.  There is no signage of the impending move, or even the change of ownership.  The Twin River and Newport Grand rewards programs are not linked together, which would be an un-needed expense.  I know that the new property in Tiverton will be a great addition to the casino landscape in New England.  But at this time, the little casino that “could’ve been” is in a state of limbo – supported by its loyal local patrons and continued good service by the staff.  But the inevitable end is in the air at Newport Grand.  The ghosts of slots and Jai Alai past will soon be the only inhabitants in this building.

As the sun sets on Newport Grand Slots

Take time to visit just once.  It’s not the Riviera of Las Vegas, but it’s a piece of history in New England.

 

 

 

Massachusetts & Rhode Island Voting Issues Made Simple

new-election-day-2016jpgTwo very important votes tomorrow will shape the casino landscape in New England’s constantly evolving expansion.  A lot has been said and written, pro & con. So, here are the ballot questions, simplified. 

This post is inspired, with quotations and material previously supplied by Channel 12, WPRI Eyewitness News.  The full article can be found clicking on Campaign 2016: RI & Mass Ballot Questions.

RHODE ISLAND QUESTION #1 – Authorizes State-operated casino gaming in Tiverton

Proposed Tiverton Casino

Proposed Tiverton Casino

Rhode Island voters casting their ballots tomorrow will decide whether or not they want a new casino to be built in Tiverton. If the question is approved by voters, Newport Grand will be moved to a new facility 400 feet from the Massachusetts border. The measure will need approval on a statewide and Tiverton resident approval to move forward.

PRO – “Approval of a casino in Tiverton will help offset state revenue lost to new and existing casinos in Massachusetts.”

CON – the Ocean State has since become dependent on a revenue source widely known to be on the decline. Tiverton say NIMBY to you. (Not In My Back Yard)


Massachusetts QUESTION #1 – GAMING EXPANSION

Suffolk Downs, Revere MA

Suffolk Downs, Revere MA, where an additional slot parlor would be built if approved.

A YES VOTE would permit the state Gaming Commission to license one additional slot-machine gaming establishment at a location that meets certain conditions specified in the law.  A NO VOTE would make no change in current laws regarding gaming.

PRO – Voting YES allows one additional slots parlor in Massachusetts, providing millions of dollars to Massachusetts communities and creating thousands of jobs.

CON – Vote “No” to postpone the question of gambling expansion until a review of the costs and benefits of existing Massachusetts gaming establishments is completed.”

There it is – simple, right?  

Don’t tell that to the communities impacted the most – Tiverton, RI and Revere, MA.  There is a lot at stake for the residents of both towns.  NETG hopes this helps.

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