Casino Referendum to Hit Rhode Island

By Debra SaundersGoogle


As Rhode Island state lawmakers approve Twin River’s bid for a casino referendum in 2012, seven consulting firms are vying for the $150,000 state contract to provide Governor Chafee’s office with a comprehensive study of the region’s gabling landscape.


Among the firms competing for the lucrative contract are Spectrum Gaming Group, Global Gaming and Hospitality, and Gaming Market Advisors.  The Department of Administration has kept the bids confidential until one of the companies gets the contract.  Michael Trainor, Gov. Chafee’s spokesman, refrained from specifying a time frame for awarding the contract.


The administration expects that the study will include the impact of the referendum on the two preexisting gambling institutions, Twin River and Newport Grand.  Twin River’s interest in the referendum was the addition of a variety of table games, including blackjack, to their existing compound composed primarily of electronic gambling machines.  According to existing terms, the state Lottery receives 61% of all earnings from the machine.  The lottery earnings from Twin River exceed $260 million annually.  The referendum was included as part of the Rhode Island state budget.


Gov. Chafee has mentioned that the local Narragansett Native Americans may play some role at the privately owned Twin River casino.  However, Chafee has stressed that he does not want to make any final decisions about the referendum until the completion of the study.  He wants the consultants to study the impact of possible expansion of the Twin River casino into a full-fledge hotel, the impact of other regional casinos, and the level of involvement of the Narragansett.  The governor would like an estimate of the potential value a new casino would generate for the Narragansett through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.  This would provide a clear picture of what the Narragansett would be losing by not building their own casino.


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