Friday, February 01, 2008

Casino Compromise Offers Greater Local Revenues

I'm appraised on a possible compromise regarding the expansion of 24 hr. gambling at Twin River's. Can Newport's Grand casino be far behind? With the State budget in the hole, it doesn't take much of a forecoaster to predict that anticipated increased revenues from the hours expansion and virutal blackjack will be on the table this year by both the Guv & the Lege. Newport Grand is now open everyday from 10 AM till 1 AM.

This be it:

1. Twin River would be allowed to open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday, and any Sunday before a Monday holiday.
2. Twin River would be allowed to stay open until 3AM during on weekdays.
3. The Town of Lincoln would receive 4 percent of the revenue from all gambling machines during the expanded hours (2AM-9AM on weekends, 2AM-3AM on weekdays).
4. These changes should be enacted legislatively and not by executive order, given the people the right to have their interests protected by law.

Twin River projects that a 7 hr. expansion could mean another $15.6 million in revenue.

How are casino revenues divied out now? The state gets about 61.5 cents out of every video-slot dollar after players are paid; Twin River & Newport Grand owners, about 27.5 cents. GTECH gets 7 percent as a game supplier and 2.5 percent as the “central system” operator for Newport and Lincoln. That leaves appx. 1.5 % for both Newport & Lincoln. Newport receives appx. a million dollars.

The Guv:
...Carcieri “has not made a final decision regarding 24-hour gambling at Twin River,” his spokesman Jeff Neal [guv's spokesman] said: “We believe that the Division of Lotteries can authorize extended hours at Rhode Island’s two gambling facilities.” Going a step farther, Lottery Division lawyer [Middletowner]Robert Silva suggested Aubin [Lottery head] could make the decision on his own.

Meanwhile Newport Council has supported Rep. Jackson's bill defining 24-hour gambling as an “expansion of gambling,” subject to statewide and local referenda. Councillor McLaughlin said that immediately following any expansion in gambling hours would be requests for 24-hour liquor licenses. The Council could turn that down.

But with an offer of greatly increased city coffers with this compromise (see #3), the pressure would be on. Indeed, interesting times.

Sources from Projo were Richard Salit & Katherine Gregg & Phoenix's N4N's Ian Dennis.
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