Rhode Island casino seeks greener pastures
A casino plan to move from Newport, R.I. to Tiverton won locally by just 368 votes, but won easily state wide. The casino corporation spent $3 million on the election, gainst no formally organized opposition. The move for the casino is to a site just 400 feet from the Massachusetts border and the city of Fall River. The site is near the Interstate network and will be the closest casino to the Interstate running out to Cape Cod. It will also make travel easier to Providence and Boston. The intent from the casino perspective is that they gain ease of access to a much larger population.
Voters are wising up to the promises of revenue. Foxwoods which has been losing revenue for the past several years, and defaulted on a loan, is a stark example of the effects of competition. While the Tiverton casino will have more access to population, it will also move closer to competition in Massachusetts and Connecticut. After the initial surge sustained revenue will be problematic. The town is promised $3 million a year and the state gets a cut, but if the casino suffers a shortfall, the state makes up the difference to the town of Tiverton.
Such concerns led to the tight vote. A newly elected Tiverton Town Council includes some casino skeptics, and the casino must satisfy the Council about drainage and traffic problems that the casino will cause. Former US Congressman Bob Steele warned the town about becoming too dependent on uncertain revenue, and called it a “bad recipe for building a state’s economy and society. Gambling is the third largest revenue source in Rhode Island and the legislators are hoping revenue rises over the long run rather than declines. This is unlikely with new competition coming on board in Massachusetts.