History Lesson: Gaming in the state of Rhode Island

"Rhode Islanders have reached the point at which only a constitutional amendment can remove this judicial roadblock and honor the intent of the delegates who devised the lottery clause of the Rhode Island constitution at the 1973 convention. Amending the state constitution to create a privately owned casino-gaming facility operated by the Narragansett Indian Tribe and its chosen partner [currently Harrah's, of Las Vegas -- Editor] -- and strictly regulated by a state gaming commission -- is the only way to let the people decide the casino question with finality.

According to the formula we established in 1973, this proposed casino amendment needs only a majority vote of the whole membership of each house of the General Assembly and ratification at a general election by a majority of the electors voting thereon. The amendment procedure is the only way to nullify the Supreme Court's judicial policymaking; and it is not a novel solution.

By proposing an amendment to the state constitution at its 2006 session, the legislative representatives of the people can bypass the obstructive Supreme Court, evade a gubernatorial veto, and let their constituents decide the issue.

Whether the casino amendment is voted up or down is not nearly as important as giving the voters of Rhode Island a direct say on an issue that greatly affects them socially and financially."

Get the Story:
Patrick T. Conley : A history of R.I.'s gambling rulings (The Providence Journal 2/1)
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