Happy Independence Day! Thanks for stopping by for my Friday column. Feel free to share your tips via idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org and to follow me on the twitters. Without further ado, and with a lot more political fireworks on the way, let's get going.


Rhode Island’s gaming industry may get a major boost. Massachusetts residents will decide if they want to get rid of all casino gambling in the Commonwealth.  Massachusetts casinos would pose direct competition to the Ocean State’s gaming revenue.

Two casinos have already been approved in Massachusetts: a resort-style in Springfield and a slot parlor in Plainville. The slot parlor would be fewer than twenty miles from Rhode Island’s Twin River casino in Lincoln.  But the new ruling could allow Commonwealth voters to stop that project dead in its tracks.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

In a marathon session that stretched for almost 12 hours before ending shortly after 4 am, the General Assembly closed its 2014 session by approving a plan that could turn Newport Grand into a casino, imposing a three-year moratorium on the use of high-stakes tests as a graduation requirement,  and setting the stage for Governor Lincoln Chafee to sign a bill making calamari Rhode Island's official state appetizer.


A senate committee will look at legislation Wednesday creating a constitutional amendment centered on gambling in the Ocean State.

The bill would put a constitutional amendment before voters that states a casino or slot parlor cannot change locations without approval from voters in that city or town.

A development team is looking to buy Newport Grand, but promises that if casino games are allowed at the slot parlor that it will not change locations.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for a weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Dave and Mark talk Joe Paolino about plans he and his partners have to revamp Newport Grand. The idea is to turn the struggling slot parlor into an entertainment complex that offers table games, but that all hinges on residents approving the move at the polls.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

Developer Joe Paolino and two partners have signed an agreement to buy Newport Grand.

Paolino isn’t ready to say how much he’s paying for Newport Grand, but said he and his partners are ready to bring table games to Newport and sink $40 million to upgrade the struggling slot parlor.

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.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Plans for a slot parlor in nearby Plainville, Massachusetts, have received their final approval.

On Friday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to green-light Penn National Gaming's plan for the Plainville slot parlor.

Plainville is just a little bit north of Attleboro, so a slot parlor there would compete for customers with Twin River in Lincoln. That’s a concern for Rhode Island, since gambling is the state’s third-largest source of revenue.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has upheld a Superior Court finding that the Narragansett Indian tribe has standing to sue the state over the addition of table games at Twin River and Newport Grand. Yet it remains unclear if the tribe's suit will move forward.

Under state law, the Narragansett tribe gets about one fifth of one percent of all net revenue from video lottery terminals at Twin River in Lincoln. That’s up to a maximum of $10 million a year.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss 2014; the health of the state pension plan; her views on boosting Rhode Island's economy; and whether adding table games is the best way for the state to protect one of its largest revenue sources.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Feb 7, 2013
Snowfall in Hope, RI
Susan Greenhalgh

Winter Storm Nemo is heading our way.  Making sure veterans have what they need as they return to civilian life.  These stories and more on the RIPR Morning News Podcast. 

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Once again, it was a busy year in the Ocean State, and Rhode Island Public Radio’s counting down the top ten news stories of 2012. At number 2 is the split vote to expand gambling at one video slot parlor, but not at another.

In November, Rhode Islanders voted to expand gambling to include casino-style games at Twin River. The vote received overwhelming support in Twin River’s host community of Lincoln.

Almost 48,000 winning Powerball tickets were sold in Rhode Island, although most were for the princely prize of $4, according to the state Lottery. Take away the $2 per-ticket cost, and the net gain for the vast bulk of winners was $2.

That’s a far cry from $587.5 million jackpot that sparked fevered dreams across the land of striking it rich. (Two winning jackpot tickets were sold, one each in Arizona and Missouri.)

Narragansett Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas has followed through on his plan to seek a meeting with Governor Lincoln Chafee.

The Narrgansetts remain on the sidelines as Rhode Island’s gambling halls are spending big bucks to promote an expansion of their offerings this November.

Narragansett Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas can only watch in frustration as 1) Massachusetts moves ahead with plans for expanded gambling in nearby Taunton; and Rhode Island’s slot parlors spend heavily in hopes of adding table games at Twin River and Newport Grand.