Rhode Island Braces for Impact From Massachusetts Casinos

Massachusetts' four casino licenses, which are sure to help the state out, are predicted to cripple business in adjoining Rhode Island. An estimated $1 billion per year is spent by Massachusetts residents outside of their state each year on gambling.

With three full casino permits being granted in Massachusetts, and one other slots-only permit in 2011, the state of Rhode Island is already assessing what economic impact that will have once the casinos become fully operational. Obviously, the closer to casinos are to Rhode Island, the worse the financial effect will be. A casino in Fall River or Somerset would siphon money from the Twin River Casino in Lincoln.

Once all casinos are up and running, it is estimated Rhode Island will lose roughly $100 million due to the competition. A harness-racing track in Plainville, which sits a dozen miles from Twin River, was awarded the slots-only gambling license. Chairman of Twin River, John Taylor, expects to see a 10 percent decline in revenue, and expects that number to go between 30 and 35 percent once the other three casinos go up, expected around 2017.

Like most states who decide to build casinos, Massachusetts is doing it for familiar reasons, to boost their tax revenue, reduce employment and to help otherwise economically deprived areas. It is estimated residents gamble $1 billion per year outside of Massachusetts, a number which obviously interests state lawmakers.

Former Governor Deval Patrick’s administration estimated this could produce 20,000 permanent jobs, 30,000 temporary jobs related to construction, while contributing $400 million in annual tax revenue. The three casinos will pay for 10-year licensing fees costing them $255 million combined.

Two of the operations include Wynn Resorts plans for a $1.6 billion property on the Mystic River waterfront, and MGM Resorts International with their $800-million casino resort on Springfield’s south side. The slots license was won by Penn National Gaming and Plainridge Racecourse, in Plainville.

The slot parlor is currently under construction of its $225-million expansion plan, just south of Gillette Stadium. Roughly 1,250 slot machines will fill the property, which is situated next to the simulcast betting facility and racing facility’s clubhouse. Plainridge Park Casino is set to open in summer of 2015. As of now, the only plan of attack for Twin River is to build a hotel, which would absorb some of the inevitable blow.