Cranston – The managers of Newport Grand Jai Alai and Lincoln Park say they will have hundreds more video slot machines up and running for the public within weeks, after getting state approval Monday.
By a unanimous vote, the State Lottery Commission voted to permit more than 1,800 new video lottery terminals in Rhode Island. The vote was expected after Governor Carcieri and General Assembly leaders agreed in principal to increasing the state's share of profits from video gambling. They have not yet agreed on how much the state's share would increase.
Testifying before the commission, Governor Carcieri said the video slot machines are a needed source of additional state revenue.
"Once all machines phased in state will receive 90-million dollars and that's before the changes are already proposed. Hopefully they will pass, and that will benefit all the taxpayers of Rhode Island," said Carcieri.
Gambling critics argued the move amounts to a regressive tax on the poor, and video slot machines are the most addictive form of gambling.
"They think in terms of the apparent revenue to the state. They don't think in terms of cost to human beings and the cost to society," gambling opponent Rodney Driver said after the Lottery Commission vote.
Commission members defended their vote as sound economic policy.
"In the last 5 years the gambling commission has put on programs for gambling addiction and the people handling those programs seem to think that the funding is adequate, and that we're doing a good job with it. So, nothing can outweigh the horror of some of these families and some of the stories, but the fact of the matter is that it's a minor percentage," said State Senator and Lottery Commission member David Bates.