Column: Uncertainty over Narragansett casino

"It went by in a flash. But what may have been the most telling moment in Channel 10’s debate between former Gov. Lincoln Almond and Narragansett Indian Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas came during an exchange over problem gambling.

An argument against the casino that the tribe and Harrah’s Entertainment want to build in West Warwick is that it would create more addicts. When Thomas said that Harrah’s is the industry’s leader in programs to deal with the issue, Almond, the leader of the anti-casino forces, interjected, “We’re not even sure we’ll have Harrah’s.”

News of the possible buyout of Harrah’s by two private-equity groups is a godsend for casino foes. It adds still more mystery and confusion to the picture. You know: The proposed constitutional amendment doesn’t spell out what percentage of the revenues would go to taxpayers, or who would regulate the casino. Would a casino bring tax relief or hurt state coffers? Create jobs or devastate restaurants? Opponents have always had a field day asking why Rhode Island should amend its Constitution to benefit Harrah’s. But at least there is some familiarity with Harrah’s and its top personnel. Who knows if these folks would be kept on by new ownership? Who knows if new owners would get along with the tribe? Maybe the Indians would turn to some other company. Who would that be?"

Get the Story:
M. Charles Bakst: Almond, Thomas clash over casino amid uncertainty (The Providence Journal 10/10)