Rhode Island Casino Readying for Massachusetts Rivals

The threatening Mass appeal of casinos in the Bay State is forcing Rhode Island’s Twin River casino (l.) to change its modus operandi to deal with the competition.

As much as a casino in Rhode Island can prepare for the arrival of three casino resorts and one slots parlor in Massachusetts that could gravely threaten its market share, the Twin River casino in Providence can be set to be prepared.

According to Twin Rivers Chairman John Taylor, interviewed by the Boston Herald,  “We’re getting ready for what’s going to come.” The casino recently added table games, and the company that owns the casino recently acquired a casino resort in Mississippi, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, for $250 million.

According to Taylor the Twin Rivers staff is training extensively to offer more customer service to patrons in addition to the 80 gaming tables that have been added to the slots in the last few years. Business in the food and beverage department has improved by 30 percent in the last eight months, according to Taylor.

One estimate is that Bay State residents currently spend over $1.1 billion at neighboring state casinos, including Rhode Island, which expects to see its own revenues decline by $422 million over the next five years.

One of the casino locations in Massachusetts currently being proposed is Fall River, which is just a few miles from the Twin River casino. Twin River markets itself as a “convenience” casino, a different proposition from the three casino resorts that Massachusetts plans.

The casinos in Rhode Island: Twin River and the Newport Grand, provide the third largest source of revenue for the state government, so the legislature may be about to give Twin River a boost. A bill has been introduced in the Assembly that would remove the specific ban that was placed on the former racetrack from building a hotel.

The sponsor of the bill Rep. Robert Phillips, said last week, “We need to see about making Twin River a destination casino. The last thing we want to be is reactive. We have to be proactive.”

Gaming in the state contributed $394.2 million to government operations last year.

Twin River did not ask the senator to introduce the legislation, but a spokesman said it does not oppose it, although Twin River sees itself as a convenience casino rather than a destination.

Keith Macksoud, mayor of Lincoln, where Twin River is located, opposes the bill.