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Opinion: Casino companies hold purse strings in Rhode Island

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: massachusetts, rhode island

The Twin River Casino in Rhode Island. Photo from Faceobok

Political analyst Scott MacKay looks at the gaming scene amid an election year in Rhode Island and Massachusetts:
There’s an old gallows humor joke about banks and creditors. If you owe the bank $30,000, the bank owns you. If you owe the bank $300 million, you own the bank.

This pretty much portrays Rhode Island’s relationship with the state’s two legal gambling emporiums, the Twin River Casino and the foundering Newport Grand video slot parlor. When state-sponsored and promoted gambling grows to the third largest source of state revenue, the gambling companies are going to get about everything they want from the Smith Hill gang.

In the legislative session that just ended, Twin River was granted the right to issue credit lines of up to $50,000 per gambler and to serve alcohol from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. on weekends, as well as on evenings before state and federal holidays. Lawmakers also voted to hold yet another statewide and local referendum on turning Newport from its current reliance on one-arm bandit slots into a full-fledged casino with table games.

Former Republican Gov. Lincoln Almond, the last true opponent of state sponsored gambling to hold the second-floor office at the Statehouse, was prophetic with his warning before the 1994 Narragansett Indian tribe West Warwick casino vote. ``Once you go down the casino path, there is no turning back,’’ said Almond.

Get the Story:
Scott MacKay: The R.I. and Mass. casino conundrum (Rhode Island Public Radio 11)

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