The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted Friday to green-light a slot parlor in nearby Plainville, Massachusetts -- a scenario that would threaten to siphon customers from Rhode Island's most lucrative gambling entity, the Twin River casino in Lincoln.
In an interview, John E. Taylor Jr., Twin River's chairman and CEO, says he expects the slot parlor would cut Twin River's $290 million in annual revenue for the state by about 10 percent.
"We knew this day was coming and have been planning for its eventuality since the Commonwealth announced its plans for casino gaming," Taylor said in a statement. "We certainly believe there could have been better locations from the regional market perspective. That said, it’s important to underscore that the license approved today for Plainville, MA is for slots only, and that this venue is not a location for a full casino."
Penn National Gaming of Pennsylvania is supposed to tell the Massachusetts commission by Friday morning if it will accept a series of conditions for its plans at Plainville.
Gambling is Rhode Island's third-largest source of state revenue, and Twin River is the biggest contributor to that stream. Various estimates suggest Rhode Island could lose tens of millions of dollars a year in annual revenue if Massachusetts moves ahead with plans for a slot parlor and a series of casinos, including one in proximity to Rhode Island.
In a statement, Taylor says Twin River plans to remain competitive in the region:
"We have long believed that our best course of action is to stay myopically-focused on the things we can control, such as the quality of the gaming and entertainment experience at Twin River, which is what we will continue to do. We have been successfully competing with two of the world’s largest casinos in the country, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino in nearby Connecticut. To that end, we remain confident that our convenient highway location, strong partnership with the State of Rhode Island, full range of amenities and attention to customer service will continue to well position us against new venues in Massachusetts."
This post has been updated.