Rhode Island Revisits Table Games At Newport Grand Casino

Rhode Island appears poised to revisit allowing table games at the Newport Grand casino two years after residents rejected the idea. The difference? A potential buyer says it won’t make the purchase without the games.

Two years after residents of Newport rejected table games at the Newport Grand slots parlor, the proposal is before the city again. A group of investors, led by the former mayor of Providence, says it will buy the slots parlor, but only if they can add table games.

The same group that opposed table games in 2012 opposes it today. During last week’s city council meeting, representatives of Citizens Concerned about Casino Gambling said that expanding gaming would hurt the economy and tourism. They added that it was an insult to the voters to seek a vote on a measure they rejected so recently.

The council will host the investors group at its May 28 meeting. At that time the council will decide whether to ask the legislature to put the measure on the November ballot.

Meanwhile the legislature is holding hearings on how casinos in neighboring Connecticut have put liens on the property of Rhode Island gamblers who have taken out markers and not honored them.

The House Judiciary Committee heard the testimony of several casino patrons who later found that the casinos can occasionally play hardball to get their money back, even on small debts.

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero has sponsored a bill that would ban this practice in Rhode Island. She said she opposed family members’ homes being used as “bargaining chips on a blackjack table.”

The legislature is also considering a bill that would allow the Twin River Casino in Lincoln to offer up to $75,000 in interest free unsecured credit to qualified customers. Twin River says it is has never put liens on real estate and doesn’t intend to. Up to this point it has also not extended credit. It would like to offer credit, which would make it competitive with other area casinos. 

The purpose of the legislation, according to sponsor Rep. Raymond Gallison, is to,  “preserve and protect the state’s ability to maximize revenues at Twin River in an increasingly competitive gaming market by expanding critical revenue-driving programs.”