Greater City Providence

If we MUST have a casino

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Photo illustration, original image (cc) mkoukoullis

Massachusetts has gone and approved casino gambling in the Commonwealth. They will allow slots at racetracks and 3 full scale “Vegas-style” casinos in the state. Both Fall River and New Bedford have been angling for a while now to get a casino in their cities.

Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox was quoted in the ProJo as being “very concerned” about a Bay State casino(s). The General Assembly here in Rhode Island has approved a 2012 ballot question asking voters to allow table games at Twin River in Lincoln.

Of course the concern comes from the fact that Rhode Island’s economy is addicted to Twin River. We get over $275 million from Twin River plus another $28.7 million from Newport Grand. Of the New Englanders going to play slots at Twin River, 56% of them are from Massachusetts (according to The Providence Journal), a percentage sure to drop precipitously if Bay Staters have slots and table games at home.

So while I personally am opposed to gaming as an economic development tool, it seems inevitable that the Assembly will move to leagalize full “Vegas-style” gaming here in Rhode Island.

So this is our exercise for today. Imagine it is the day after election day, the casino referendum has passed, there’s no saying no, we’re getting a casino. Where should it go?

If we MUST have a casino, where should it go?

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*Any of these proposals could have the Narragansetts as a partner.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I voted Twin River expansion. any full scale casino is Providence is going to put them out of business. I guess then maybe CCRI could take more space but more likely it would become a giant empty box in the Landscape.

    Frankly though I don’t like that location much and the people of Lincoln and North Providence probably shouldn’t either.

    Allens Ave I guess would be fine to create some kind of sin district, although having it right next to the “knowledge district” seems counter-intuitive. But I can’t see it being a driver of other development in the city. I know proponents like to talk about Foxwoods and Mohegan but I’m not sure that part of CT has actually been improved by that activity.

  • I can’t vote because I’m really not sure, but there are a couple of ideas here that are interesting. While it’s probably going to end up being a Twin River expansion or be placed somewhere else off the beaten path (cheaper to build, less competition for food and entertainment drawing people out of the casino), I think I’d actually prefer a location like LaSalle Square, something I would never have thought of.

    Here’s why:
    1) Having a major commercial property like that will lessen the pressure to ensure non-profits don’t buy 195 land. I think ultimately unless we let Brown and JW grab some of that space up, no one is going to develop in the “Knowledge District”. We’ll just be stuck in a game of chicken.
    2) Downcity can offer lots of entertainment that should appeal to the typical casino-goer. We already have theater, restaurants, and shopping. We also already have many nice hotels (God knows when so many people are coming and staying in Providence other than college move-in weekend). Because of that, I think the potential for positive spillover is highest in the heart of Downcity. Not only will people visiting the casino access these places, but many folks who live in Rhode Island but never come to Providence may get used to the idea and be exposed to the great cultural activities it has to offer.

  • Jason, you’re thoughts are good. Here is my concern, because it dovetails a bit with the 195 discussion. If you build a casino with no parking, then people are not going to come. Or, at least, a developer is going to say that people are not going to come. People are going to want tons of free parking for a casino.

    OK, so we get the casino to build parking.

    But then, people actually don’t wander around the city. The drive their car in, go to the casino, and then leave in their car. Remember that casinos tend to have all varieties of services self-contained, and are designed to keep people in, not engage their surroundings. I assume it will be rather similar to Providence Place. I’m not sure what % of PPlace shoppers actually venture out much.

    I was thinking like you that it would be great to try an urban-style casino. Restrict the amount of parking, etc. But I’m just not sure it would really fly unless the city subsidized it heavily, and even then I’m not sure it would necessarily work.

  • A casino would be good in Providence, I think Allens Ave. would be an excellent place. It would compliment the strip clubs that occupy the street already. I’d also be in favor of a Twin River expansion.

  • I wish I could have voted for two options, because it would make sense to expand both Twin River AND Newport Grand at the same time. I think doing so would help Twin River stay afloat and that Newport Grand would actually grow.
    In regards to the other options:

    The Narragansett proposal – No chance in hell until they give up on trying to pay significantly less in taxes than the two current facilities we have.

    Allens ave. – I too, like the idea of the sin district, in theory. In practice, I feel like crime would skyrocket if it was put there. I don’t have anything to really back this up, but having a place that sometimes attracts desperate people in the middle of the night to an area that is pretty dark and underdeveloped seems like a dangerous combination. I don’t know if I’d ever walk that street at night again is all I’m saying. Too much sin in one place maybe?

    LaSalle Square – Not a bad idea altogether, the police station is right nearby, so they could impose a pretty heavy presence to dissuade riff raff from spilling over into the nearby establishments. I’m not sure if this location would help or hurt the convention center in the long run but I think it could be attractive if any retail or restaurants were on the ground floor much like the mall. Possibly the best of the Providence locations.

    Capital Center – It’ll never happen. All it will take is one resident at the Waterplace condos to threaten to move out and it’s all over. That aside, it would be pretty to have on the river and would fit in the lot with Citizens bank, both in size and in spirit. You could go to one place where people go to gamble with their own money and be next to another place where people go to gamble with the money of others!

  • I just wonder how much of the state money we get from gambling drains away into the social problems it brings– addiction, alcohol abuse, child neglect.
    Also, the area around Allens Ave is full of densely populated housing, children, schools– just saying, people live there and while I’m not always against sin, I am against sin that creates a risky environment for non-sinners. How about putting the casino in the old Rhode Island Mall? Run shuttles to keep the drunks off 95 and it’s a win-win.
    I just wish this discussion of how to create an economic engine was about actually manufacturing something useful and creating jobs that pay better than minimum.

  • Ideally, for me:

    1) Not here. (Providence, that is.)

    2) Not in any form that’ll take away entertainment revenue from Providence. (Let people gamble any way they want, but don’t build any facilities that will compete with PPAC, the Civic Center, or the Convention Center.)

  • Yes John, that is my opinion too.

    If we MUST have a casino, I would want it someplace in Downtown Providence, no hotel, minimal refreshments, no entertainment venue. Just gaming and booze. Located in proximity to PPAC, Trinity, the Dunk, etc. as well as our restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, it would be one part of a citywide entertainment business.

    I think LaSalle Square on the old Public Safety building site could work for such a casino (and would have a certain sort of irony). Improve connections over Atwells and Federal Hill becomes the restaurant row of the casino, patrons can go to and from events at the Dunk or the convention center, show at Trinity. The Hilton is close enough to be a chip in bargaining away a hotel directly attached to the casino. The added business may prompt The Procaccianti Group to revisit expansion plans at the Hilton.

    The Fogarty Building site or perhaps the ProJo building (which Belo wants to sell) could become another hotel.


    Alternately, the land behind Citizens would allow us to heard gamblers off trains from Massachusetts and into the casino, then spit them out into the city to eat and recreate.

  • Casinos suck. Economically and urban-vitality wise. Period. But we are stuck with having them.

    Just end the “this is not really a casino” nonsense at Twin River and keep it there. I do not see any way a casino could improve Providence, anywhere in Providence.

    Newport should try a boutique casino in one of the mansions, very high stakes, brazenly exclusive and oh so tasteful. The dress code goes without saying. It would not need a huge crowd to succeed. No one else so far has targeted a high class niche that is not taken in by the trumptastic “classyness” of all the other casinos. One warning: If the typical Rhode Island Blue Ribbon Panel is to preside over its creation, don’t bother.

  • Anywhere in Providence should work. Downtown would be the ideal location, if it weren’t quite dead by 9 pm. (Monte Carlo is not exactly Manhattan, but it generally stays busy until fairly late at night.) Thayer Street, which stays open later at night and is vastly less sketchy, would be a better choice if it weren’t too far from anything except Brown.

  • WPRI reports that Steve Wynn, the head of Wynn Resorts, a casino operator, will be meeting with Patriots owner Robert Kraft today. A casino at Foxboro would likely pretty much put an end to any activity at Twin River.

  • Casino’s without all the ancillary functions, hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. are not going to happen. Casino operators want a captive audience. If a customer has to leave the premises to go their hotel, or out to eat or buy something with their winnings they may not come back. And, while I love Providence it is not Monte Carlo. Mean temps there never get below 50. Providence in February is not very conducive to strolling.

    I like the idea of expanding Twin River. Negotiate a contract that is good to the people of Lincoln to help alleviate any financial burdens and fears. Connect the casino to the city with light rail or monorail from downtown, Providence can still be a destination and offer gaming a 10-15 minute ride away. How about running any rail project right up 146 to Woonsocket with some kind of people mover to Twin River.

    As for the social ills of gaming; approx. 2 million (1%) of U.S. citizens are considered pathological gamblers in in a given year. 4-6 million (2-3%) are considered problem gamblers. I have always felt that any gaming contract should include enough money put aside (on top of already negotiated payouts) to ensure that services are available to counsel and treat those who may find themselves with a problem. This not only includes addiction, but suicide prevention and other afflictions that occur from problem gaming. The state should partner up with the Brown U. medical school and the Providence Center to provide services. Create a program that not only treats but does research into the causes of and the future treatments of addiction.

    If the state needs to compete with Mass. and keep making its money from gaming it should do it in a responsible way that brings benefit to the public and helps alleviate the harm it causes.

  • The casinos in Montreal and Halifax both do not have attached hotels and both are located in cities with climates quite a bit different than Monte Carlo.

    The question is, could impose restrictions on a casino operator when Connecticut and Massachusetts both have their arms wide open, ready to clear cut whatever parts of their states the casino operators want.

  • GoLocalProvidence: It’s Table Games or Die at Twin River

    Lincoln-based Twin River stands to lose about 35 percent of its annual revenue when three resort-style style casinos and a slot parlor open in Massachusetts, but the board Chairman John Taylor says the casino is unlikely to face a “doomsday scenario” as long as Rhode Island voters to approve table games next November.

  • We already have “casinos” in RI. Why not allow them to have table games if it will save them? While I think it’s stupid that the state depends so much on the revenue from Twin River, I think that if we need that revenue, might as well do what we can to save it.

  • I don’t see what good expanding Twin River would do if we have a scenario where there are full resort style casinos at Foxboro or Middleborough and Fall River or New Bedford, plus the existing casinos in Connecticut. If we are surrounded by out of state casinos, then residents of Connecticut and Massachusetts won’t drive by those resorts just to get to Twin River (unless Twin River has free sex or something).

    Basically, we’ll be laundering Rhode Islanders money through Twin River on it’s way to Smith Hill (which is basically what happens now with some Mass Holes coming down to play the slots to add to the revenue). Better to have the State ween itself off of gambling and raise taxes if that is the case.

  • The idea of weening the state off gambling or at least reducing the dependence on it would be good. Raising taxes might not be the best substitute. Substantial economic and population growth would be a better way to remedy the state and cities immediate shortfalls. The question then becomes how to achieve growth in a place that has a large underclass and that lacks palm trees or scenic mountains, low taxes, low cost of living, and a cheap labor force?

  • While this blog is mostly about Providence and its surroundings, as a whole, the state should look towards its natural resources to bring in money… the ocean, the beaches, the bay (though VT will tell you that scenic beauty and outdoor recreation alone does not bring in a ton of money).

    I do not think we should get rid of Twin River and raise taxes. That will only hurt the people that live here. That’s a horrible answer. Twin River is only like a tax on a small subset of our population who enjoy gambling (or have a problem). Perhaps the answer should be build Twin River into a full on resort casino with something that differentiates it from the CT and MA casinos. Of course, then the Narragansetts will probably sue the state for some of that money.

  • I can’t imagine what Twin River could offer that would in any way differentiate it from any other full scale casino. What could it offer that would entice people to drive past Mohegan/Foxwoods or Foxboro/Fall River to reach it?

    All I can see happening is an arms race of venue booking among the venues. Cirque du Soleil or REO Speedwagon, or whoever the hell plays at casinos these days is not playing all 4 or 6 casinos in this part of the country, they’re playing one, maybe two, then they’re off.

    And beyond the casino arms race, all of that is in competition with Providence too.

    The only thing I can think that Rhode Island can offer that the other existing and proposed casinos can’t is Providence (or Newport). Being in an actual city with other things to do other than table games and cheese-ball entertainment. Unless we actually build the casino in the city, none of the existing or proposed locations is any better situated to Providence than any other really. Conventioneers in Providence bus out to Connecticut now and can just as easily bus to Foxboro or Fall River or Twin River.

    What we have here is, as always, the states of the region again all out for themselves, and Rhode Island getting shafted in the process. If we thought regionally, we would not be building casinos every 25 miles, it makes no sense.

  • I can’t imagine what Twin River could offer that would in any way differentiate it from any other full scale casino. What could it offer that would entice people to drive past Mohegan/Foxwoods or Foxboro/Fall River to reach it?

    Imagine this: Prostitutes! Too bad they changed the law.

  • Now that you mention it, our stripper laws are much more liberal than Massachusetts’, don’t know about Connecticut.

    I assume Lincoln would be just thrilled for Twin River to add lap dancing and table games.

  • You know… if the people of the state weren’t so afraid of sex, we could make a killing on prostitution if we just fully legalized it rather than having it legal through a loophole.

    I’m not sure how our stripper laws compare to CT. I’m pretty sure CT allows full nudity if no alcohol is served. If alcohol is served, it’s topless only.

  • The Attleboro Sun Chronicle: Kraft: Listen, then decide

    Patriots owner Robert Kraft is calling on Foxboro residents to listen to the details of a proposed resort casino before making up their minds on the issue.

    The facility would include a casino, hotel, convention center, restaurants and retail shops, Wynn said.

  • RINPR: Newport mayor: city has to consider all options on Newport Grand

    The ProJo’s estimable Katherine Gregg got the ball rolling with a story Saturday, indicating how Newport may be becoming more receptive to expanded gambling at Newport Grand. Most significantly, the story had Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed anticipating General Assembly passage if the Newport council backs handing the question – whether Newport Grand should add table games - to voters next November.

    If your main goal is to gamble, who is going to drive past Fall River, down Aquidneck Island to Newport, table games or no?

  • We think too much like Rhode Islanders. “Who would go all the way out to Lincoln from Providence?” Using Google Street maps the travel time by car from downtown Prov to Twin River is 15 minutes. What is the travel time by car from hotels around the Rue Notre Dame to the Casino de Montreal? 12-15 minutes. And if you decide to use public transit, tack on another 10-15 minutes.

    If the Convention Center promoted the historic beauty of Providence and it’s world class restaurants plus full table gaming within 15 minutes, it would have a great package that might attract the mid-tier conventions that currently go elsewhere. Twin River could do the opposite. Sell all the table games they can get elsewhere but with Providence just a few minutes away. Twin River would prefer people dining at Fred and Steve’s, but they would probably be more than willing to provide shuttle service to and from downtown Providence. Now if our liberal laws allow for complimentary cocktails and lap dances on some of the shuttles…bonus!

    Rhode Island has to stop thinking of itself on such local and parochial terms. Providence is not an entity in and of itself. It is part of a region that is still smaller than many cities and is fairly easy to navigate. Conventioneers have tight schedules. I think a 15 minute ride to Lincoln would trump the 1/2 hour to Foxboro or the hour it takes to get to Foxwoods.

    Twin River has to stop thinking of itself as an island. Sure Twin River will lose a lot of the slot machine crowd from the Boston area. But it might be able to market Providence to the recreational and vacation gamblers. Why stay at a hotel stuck out in Uncasville, Foxboro or Fall River when you can stay in a beautiful city like Providence and hop a shuttle to take in some gaming. This could also happen much sooner than it will take to build a casino in Providence or Massachusetts if we get off our butts and make it happen.

    Of course, if the powers that be do decide that a downtown casino is in the cards, then I say screw the Heritage Harbor Museum and put it inside the shell of the power plant. Then I am going to buy me a water taxi to ferry people to and from yachts and cruise ships.

  • Turning the Dynamo House into a casino is a really interesting idea. There’s plenty of room in the building for the Heritage Harbor Museum, casino, possibly even the Aloft Hotel. Quick, somebody tell Steve Wynn to get his ass down to Providence and make it happen.

  • It’s predictable that the state would get into the online gambling racket… But, seriously, the Dynamo House would make a truly unique, destination casino. I’d be for it. Even better would be to link it to the city, so that people venture out to downtown restaurants, bars and shops. It would also be easy to route the streetcar to the casino.

  • I think Dan’s idea is great. I don’t know why this is such a big issue and why adding table games at either Newport or Twin River would be such a problem. We’re small. We don’t need a huge all-in-one casino. Offer shuttles between Providence and Twin River. Offer shuttles between Newport Grand and the attractions and hotels in Newport and you got a built-in all-in-one, just not in the same building or on the same property.

    I spent a night at Foxwoods recently. Sure, we gambled for a couple hours, but we spent most of our time partying in the hotel suite. We went for dinner in one of the restaurants (which was pretty freakin’ expensive). It might have been fun to splurge, but it would have been more fun eating at a great restaurant in Providence. It also took 10 minutes to walk between the MGM and the rest of Foxwoods. I don’t see how a 15 min shuttle between Providence and Twin River is any different, especially if there are complimentary drinks on the shuttle (even if it’s cheap wine and beer).

    Heck, I wouldn’t have a problem with the Dynamo House being a casino. It’s sitting vacant right now. You can easily incorporate a museum into it (there’s one at Foxwoods). It’s also ridiculously close to downtown and within 10 minutes of every Providence destination.

  • The problem with Twin River is that it is isolated from other small businesses that could benefit from casino goers. At present, people aren’t shopping in Lincoln or going out to restaurants; they’re driving there for just a few hours, spending their money inside the casino, and then hopping back on 95. I would be interested to know how many people actually make a weekend of Twin River; most likely few are going to the casino, and then heading to PVD to eat, shop and shack up in a hotel. In the event that they do allow table games at Twin River and even if they try to shuttle people back and forth from Providence, I still think the majority of people would not be spending their time and money outside of the Twin River bubble.

    The fact is that a Providence casino would have a much greater economic impact on Rhode Island, and Providence, particularly if it were designed to be integrated into the city in a manner that encourages casino goers to travel about the city to shop and dine. Some or all of the $100 million that the state loses in tax revenue could be recouped “at” the casino; but that doesn’t say anything about the benefits to businesses, small and large, all throughout the city.

  • Check out this article about an innovative urban casino being built in Cincinnati. It’s being designed to avoid the “casino island” effect; rather, the casino is being designed to connect to the city itself–the restaurants, parks, shops and hotels– encouraging pedestrians to travel freely throughout the city.

    “The Cincinnati complex will have multiple entrances and a transparent exterior, and its restaurants will be accessible from the outside by visitors who don’t care to set foot on the gaming floor. The developers have also pledged not to build their own hotel for several years, or until those in the area get closer to capacity.

    Residents nearby have meanwhile sketched out new parks they’d like to see put in, alongside expanded housing, a grocery store and revitalized street corridors connecting the area’s detached entertainment and arts destinations to each other and the casino site.”

  • WPRI: Casino being proposed at Quonset Point

    Rep. John Carnevale [D-Providence] says building a casino at the former naval base in North Kingstown would help Rhode Island’s economy and create a new tourist draw. He notes that the Quonset peninsula boasts nearby highways, an airport and a deep-water port that can accommodate cruise ships.

    Like Twin River, Quonset is not near anything else and we don’t need new tourist draws, we need to bolster the tourist draws we have.

    Like Twin River, people are not going to drive from points west, past the Connecticut casinos or from points east and north, past the Massachusetts casinos to go to a casino at Quonset. What is the special draw that would make people do that? Cruise ships… well I suppose, but are cruise ships going to dock at Newport and a Quonset casino or at only one or the other? If they are making a choice, then aren’t we hurting Newport?

    And, would it hurt the representative from Providence to at least float the idea of having a Casino in Providence. If the goal is to bolster the economy (which may be a dubious goal), then how about bolstering the Providence economy.

    There’s no response yet from people in North Kingstown, but I imagine, like most everything, they’ll be against it.

  • Knowing the community of North Kingstown, especially the village of Wickford for which Quonset is especially near, this will not go over very easily. I recall opposition to the MBTA station in Wickford… and now a casino?

    As for the cruise ships, coming from experience with working for Newport’s flagship tourist attraction for several years, many of the ships that typically dock in Newport Harbor (another deep water port), are in town for a mere few hours.
    Approx. 90% of the ships (last year 2011 totaled around 60 visits), were week-long excursions during the fall peak season. Newport was a quick stop on those voyages. Tourists traveling on cruise ship to Newport will only really visit the mansions, beaches, shops, and other sites. The trip lasts maybe 5-hours at average. What time would there be for visiting a casino?

    Some of the larger liners, such as Cunard’s QM2, and a few of the Princess lines have casinos already on-board.

    However, if a visitor traveling to Newport via cruise ship were to visit the sites in the city (the mansions, beaches, shops, etc) AND travel to go to the casino, expect heavy (I cannot stress enough) traffic congestion on the Pell and Jamestown Bridges, Route 1 & 4 (especially in the area of the Rt. 1/4 merger) mostly from motor coaches… and add to that the influx of summer and early fall beach traffic on weekends. That can be one hell of a mess. The backlog of summer traffic, even without a casino, is awful.

    There would be much needed investment from the state to improve the infrastructure of Rt. 1, 4, 138, etc. Would all this extra expense be worth it all?

  • The infrastructure needs in Newport is another reason why a casino in Providence makes the most sense. In addition, consider the fact that Mayor Waluk recently expressed interest in exploring table games at Newport Grand, which comes out of a concern that a Fall River casino would be a big hit to Newport Grand and Newport. The fact is, a Providence casino would kill two birds with one stone. The proposal for a Fall River casino would fall flat if an urban casino in Providence is in the works–it’s no contest. Hence, Newport is in the clear from Fall River competition. People would much rather go to a casino in Providence and take advantage of all that the city offers than to go to Fall River, which offers, well, nothing really (with all due respect).

    I think that you are right, Jef, about the need for a Rep from Providence to stand up and make the case for an urban casino.

  • North Kingstown’s Senator Sheehan says, “no.”

    “Now, because that talk has made it into the public venue – talk radio and our local newspapers – I want to express my concerns and reservations about a large scale Foxwoods-style casino at Quonset. The commerce park has been developing well under good management and boasts thousands of jobs and it is those types of jobs that we should be seeking to draw into the park – good, well-paying, long-lasting jobs for Rhode Island workers,” he said.

    In anticipation of discussions about a casino in Quonset, Senator Sheehan has already written to the members of the North Kingstown City Council, asking for a meeting of local officials and members of the North Kingstown legislative delegation to begin a dialogue on the issue.

    “Gambling is a very unique industry,” said Senator Sheehan, “and it carries with it numerous pitfalls for any host community and beyond. That is why our state constitution requires the approval of local residents before any expansion of gambling is allowed. I am confident that an overwhelming majority of residents of North Kingstown share my deep concerns about the impact that such a vast facility would have on our town.”

  • Got it, bike to the casino! Better yet high-stakes gamblers should take a commuter train from TF Green after changing planes in Baltimore or Philadelphia. In January and February take a cruse ship from Europe or the Caribbean to gamble at a slot parlor in an industrial zone in Rhode Island.

    During the darkest days of the current recession, the only place where jobs were created in Rhode Island was Quonset. And, it was a lot of high-paying jobs. I don’t know a specific number, but I remember hearing it reported that is was on the order of hundreds of jobs, while thousands of jobs were being lost elsewhere in the state.

    Even if Rep. Trillo’s casino premise were to be proven viable, why on that specific site? Why 56 acres? Surface parking?

    As reference, 56 acres = 2.4 million square feet, equivalent to about a 1/3 of the office space in Downtown Providence. The multi-level Providence Place Mall is 42% smaller than 2.4 million square feet, not including its 8,000-space parking garage. The vacant 195 land is roughly 40 acres.

    Even if such a casino were to be successful, it would be a horrific waste of valuable commercial/industrial land. Quonset doesn’t just have a single rail track but has a complex web of newly constructed rail spurs and trunk lines designed to service heavy industrial users. The port, airport, and new highway along with rail access are all intended to support industrial activity and growth.

    Plopping a casino in Quonset is no different than building one in the Jewelry District on the 195 land. A casino would not contribute or support efforts to build a professional or industrial job base at either location.

    A casino complex at Quonset or anywhere else, would have to be equivalent in scale to the Connecticut casinos or all of Atlantic City to become a national/global draw, which would have to include thousands of hotel rooms, numerous restaurants, and entertainment and conference/convention facilities to succeed.

    Warwick continues to fight to prevent or postpone the runway extension. The runway project now could be delayed by three years minimum. Where are the gamblers coming from and how are they getting to this world-class casino facility?

    Where would the multiple billions needed to build this proposed Vegas on Narragansett Bay come from; the private sector or Rhode Island taxpayers?

  • Some very intriguing comments here. I think that if gambling creates income for the state, then we need to keep it viable – don’t just give up because CT has casinos and MA is planning to also.

    I don’t see the problem with having multiple casinos. Build a smaller scale one in Providence – it could just be another attraction like a bar or club. I am not into gambling, so I don’t ever go to Twin River. I live in Providence though, and if someone built a new casino I would want to check it out at least once.

    As for concerns about competition, create something unique – or specialize in something. I don’t know what the other casinos in NE specialize in, but maybe the PVD one could focus on sports gambling, and have a huge viewing space with HD TVs and all the games.

    The casino doesn’t have to be huge, or include hotels and restaurants. I love the idea from that Cincinnati article – encourage interaction with the surrounding city. How about build on the air rights over the highway – between Broadway and Westminster or something?

    On another note, I wish RI would just fully legalize marijuana, then we wouldn’t have to worry about the state economy at all. Education? Fixed. Transportation? Fixed. Restaurant and food market business? Booming.

  • AP: RI casino referendum passes legislative panel

    A proposal to ask Rhode Island voters to approve a full-fledged casino at the Newport Grand slot parlor inched one step closer to the November ballot Wednesday.

    The House Finance Committee endorsed putting the ballot question before voters. If the full General Assembly agrees, the referendum will appear on this fall’s ballot.

  • I think we need a ‘stop loss’ approach. We’re NOT going to be able to compete in terms of biggest/best, but we CAN keep money local and have casinos add to the ‘weird/hip’ aspect of Providence.

    Instead of building a ‘destination’ casino, Providence could auction a handful of licenses for small ‘gambling parlors’ in the city.

    I want to see one place that’s ‘working class’, one that’s more upscale, one for hipsters, one that caters to the convention center crowds, etc.. Let the parlors boost local business and commercial real estate instead of draw it away to some godforsaken suburb.

  • While I like the idea of a casino in Providence, I prefer one casino that is connected to the business, hotels and restaurants in the city. Furthermore, I really don’t like the idea of creating a casino targeted at working class people who already don’t have enough money, and hipsters are sooner to go dumpster diving than drop $50 on blackjack…

  • “I prefer one casino that is connected to the business, hotels and restaurants in the city.”

    I’m not sure how you can have a single self-contained casino that also gets people to go out on the town in other ways.

    “Furthermore, I really don’t like the idea of creating a casino targeted at working class people who already don’t have enough money”

    Well, RI already gambles something like 10X the national average, and Twin River already -is- a working class place. Like I said, the goal here isn’t lofty: it’s to keep RI’s population of gamblers from driving to New Bedford and Fall River instead of Twin River. If we can capture them in the city, even better. We can’t let our ideals get in the way of reality here. If MA and CT have this, we’re going to lose a fair portion of our state revenue -and- our GDP. The average RI’er spends something like $2,100 a year on RILOT games. That’s about $100 per week, per worker. The cat is already WAY out of the bag.

    “and hipsters are sooner to go dumpster diving than drop $50 on blackjack”

    I’m not sure about that. My 30+ hipster pals are starting to spend more at Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and even trips to Vegas. Table games are a compelling advantage, and a welcome distraction from the humdrum. I don’t like gambling, but I might be convinced to pop-in to a parlor to play $20 on a night out, especially if we’re walking right by it between dinner, theater, the show we’re seeing, and the bar.

  • The New York Times: Foxwoods Is Fighting for Its Life

    These days the tribe is dealing with the latest improbability in its turbulent history: financial havoc. The casino is underwater, like a five-bedroom Spanish colonial in a Nevada subdivision. The Pequots misjudged the market, borrowed too much and expanded unwisely. Foxwoods’s debt is on a scale befitting the size of the property - $2.3 billion.

  • RINPR: From “No Casinos” to “Yo Casinos” in Rhode Island

    The difference is that Massachusetts is planning so-called resort casinos, replete with glitzy hotels, upscale retailing and golf courses. Rhode Island’s venues have no such amenities.

    When the Bay State builds casinos with shopping malls and fancy restaurants, our state will be stuck with cheesy 7-11 and fast-food style gambling. Where do you think the gambling masses are headed?

  • General Assembly Press Release: Senate approves Newport Grand casino bills

    The Senate today approved legislation that will ask state voters if they approve the addition of casino-style table games at Newport Grand.

    The legislation, pending subsequent approval in the House of Representatives, would place the issue before voters in November, when they will also face a similar question about the Twin River gaming facility. Passage would require approval by a majority of voters statewide and in the host communities.

    The Senate today passed both Newport Grand bills – (2012-S2695A) introduced by Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and (2012-H7543A) introduced by Rep. J. Russell Jackson (D-Dist. 73, Middletown, Newport).

    The legislation passed today is an amended version of the original legislation, which called on the state to “conduct an extensive analysis and evaluation of competitive casino gambling operations.” New language in the bills now headed for the House specifies that a study commissioned by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee fulfills that requirement.

    The Chafee study found that Rhode Island could lose $100 million or more in revenue every year if casinos open in Massachusetts, as expected, and that the addition of table games at RI venues could mitigate that impact.

    The bills approved today also specify that the General Assembly, through enactment of legislation this session, will “determine the terms and conditions pursuant to which casino gaming would be operated in the state,” and including how much revenue the state would receive from the expanded table gaming

  • “Rep. Trillo: Casino Research Should Seek Equal Revenue, Include Allens Ave.”

    “…That is not the only option that he would like to see explored. He wants to know, for example, whether larger payouts for gambling winners would “hold customers.” He also told the Current that other locations should be considered for casino construction, including Allens Ave. in Providence:

    I would love to see it in the knowledge district, and it would make a lot of sense. Somewhere near the port on Allens Ave., where there is water access for large vessels, like cruise ships.”

  • Respectfully as possible, Rep Trillo is a useful for one thing, and it’s to show ‘the wrong way’ on any particular issue.

    This is the ‘Fiscally responsible Republican’ who was pushing legislation that started “Whereas Ice Cream is a nutritious and wholesome food…” In April 2009, as the state’s finances burned.

  • Absolutely. If anyone wasn’t convinced of his ineptitude already, I think they were convinced by that Youtube video he made about his Quonset Casino idea…

    On a side note, i wasn’t familar with the website this is from –The Ocean State Current, a very conservative blog. while I disagree with just about everything I read on it, what was interesting is that there are articles devoted to reporting on many of the same issues discussed on GCPVD (for example, there is an article about complete streets), and I think it provides a good counterpoint.

  • Why not situate the casino along the water at India Point? The area is scenic, nicely buffered by the hurricane barrier, and with few more promising prospects, because of it’s relative isolation from the city.

    A casino would further benefit from India point’s proximity to 195 and the potential to develop a world-class commercial marina. I would argue that a large casino at India point, complete with hotel rooms and venues, is possibly the “classiest” place in Providence to put a casino with the least harm.

  • > Why not situate the casino along the water at India Point?

    This would jive perfectly with my ‘handful of small casinos/parlors’ idea. A mid-sized parlor (capacity 200-500) at the old Shooters site would be small enough to avoid the kinds of disruption East Siders wouldn’t tolerate, and it would help attract more people to existing dancing/drinking/dining that’s within walking distance.

    Plus, if a particular place doesn’t pan-out, we’re not stuck with a $200M taxpayer-funded empty space.

  • South Coast Today: Update: Tribe says Taunton casino would create 2,500 jobs

    With nearly 50 tribe members looking on, a beaming Cedric Cromwell today unveiled plans for a $500 million casino in Taunton that will feature three hotels, as many as 10 restaurants, retail shops and an indoor/outdoor waterpark.

    Channel 12 in their report last night described the waterpark as “Family Friendly.” Because if there’s anything that is “Family Friendly” its leaving the kids in a waterpark while mom and dad gamble away the mortgage payment.

  • South Coast Today: Foxboro casino plans scrapped

    In balloting on Monday, a whopping 58 percent of Foxboro voters elected two anti-casino candidates to the Board of Selectmen, giving foes a 4-1 majority on the board. Seeing the writing on the wall, Wynn Resorts and the Kraft Group pulled the plug on plans for a casino across from Patriot Place and the stadium.

  • Suggestions: (1) put a simple yes/no for legalization of casino gambling on the next ballot; (2) if gaming is approved, create a gaming commission to deal with ALL of the remaining details, including selling of gaming licenses; and (3) let the developers (i.e., the market) decide where to put casinos in RI. If we continue to allow everyone to micromanage every detail of gaming in RI, we will continue never to be able to get out of our own way. RI looks like an unfunny version of the Three Stooges when it comes to gambling planning. Hint: Perhaps the state could hire some folks from Nevada who have done this before.

  • Bill, the problem with your plan is that the developers aren’t going to build a casino. With Twin Rivers almost flopping, and other casinos in the country experiencing the same thing, the market is in flux. Basically, casino gambling in the region is in a similar situation as a drug company who’s blockbuster product just went generic… Soon gambling is going to be ‘no big moneymaker’ because everyone is doing it. The idea is to keep Rhode Islanders from LEAVING to gamble. We’re on defense.

    Developers wouldn’t even build Providence Place if we hadn’t fronted a TON of money for the parking garage and offer tax-free status on the property for decades. Projects like Dynamo House are totally stalled, and the city doesn’t even have the resources to force them to take care of the shell of a historic building they left to rot.

    What I’m suggesting is to only allow small-time casino/parlors, businesses that are small enough to not cause major disruption to traffic and neighborhoods, small enough to be opened by local business-folks who are already in the entertainment business.

  • “small-time casino/parlors, ”

    There is a nice don’t-just-imitate-the-crowd angle to this. A low stakes bet that there are at least some people looking to gamble who will prefer to visit a city with its own variety of restaurants, live entertainment, museums etc. instead of yet another generic casino megaplex with a square mile of parking in the middle of (what’s left of) the woods. When it gets hard to stand out in the casino market, rail access from Boston and NYC is at least something.

    And excuse me for repeating my suggestion to put an intimate, very-high-stakes-only casino in one of the Newport mansions.

  • “intimate, very-high-stakes-only casino in one of the Newport mansions”

    Brilliant! Our state has this misplaced belief that ‘if we do it like other places, we’ll be successful like they are’. The fact is that Rhode Island’s size, demographics, and history make it a very different kind of place. Cookie-cutter economic development and governance plans from places ten times our size and one quarter our density just aren’t going to be effective here.

  • Mangeek, interesting points. But I suspect that the Wynns and Harrah’s would come and build at their own risk, without public subsidies, if we had a simple, predictable, and transparent regulatory environment. How could an east coast location between Boston and New York not be attractive? But without any regulatory agency or regulatory transparency, we offer developers only chaos and corruption — which ultimately hurts only ourselves.

  • If we must have a casino, it had better be a full on resort casino, plunked out in the middle of nowhere and kept as insulated as possible from the rest of the state.

    Respectfully, I completely disagree with the idea that small urban gambling houses are going to bring a greater positive impact to Providence’s economy than the negative impact of having them around, and small gambling parlors are not going to attract out-of-staters who you would then hope would exit the casino to venture around our city. Urban gambling houses would kill Twin River, as the only people patronizing them are the current clientele at Twin River, and it would also be a forfeiture of whatever non-gambling venues exist there already.

    No, if we need a casino, we want a casino that’s as much like Foxwoods as possible – and that’s Twin River with table games.

    Now, on a more philosophical level? We’re a state that’s 50 miles long by 35 miles wide and a significant portion of that is within 10 minutes of the coastline. As a state, our #1 revenue source, indeed, the entire focus of our state, should be on tourism and hospitality – getting people into our state, making it easy for them to get around, and inviting them to enjoy everything our state has to offer. Waterfront, beaches, historic cities, museums, whatever, we should be turning as much of the state as we possibly can into a tourist trap.

    And there’s much better ways of doing THAT than with a casino. Instead of shifting to the defensive and increasing the state’s gambling options because ‘everyone else is doing it,’

  • we should see the opportunity that has been presented to us for what it is – a chance to pull out of the gambling market entirely, and a chance that we may never get again if we pass it up now.

    And that’s the correct course of action.

    (I don’t know how I managed to lose the last two lines of the comment. Could someone somehow merge the comments?)

  • I respectfully disagree. There just isn’t enough of a gambling market to support CT, MA, and RI all having monster-sized ‘destination’ casinos. Foxwoods is already drowning in debt, as is Twin River.

    The Patriots are a giant profitable franchise, but they wouldn’t be if each New England state started their own team.

    The strategy should be ‘stop-loss’, prevent RIers from leaving to gamble 40 minutes away. It shouldn’t require public investment to allow smaller parlors. The ‘bad effects’ would be minimal, and they could be handled by local zoning and license boards.

    The idea that we can compete in an already saturated market by building something ‘bigger and better’, when our neighbors have more resources and better management is folly.

  • Newport Now: CasiNO

    In a decisive vote, Newport residents voted 54-45 percent to reject a ballot question that would have given local approval to convert Newport Grand into a full-scale casino.

Providence, RI
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