A new casino in Tiverton with table games and easy access to state highways would allow Rhode Island to compete with neighboring Massachusetts for gambling revenue, state casino operators said Tuesday.
Twin River Management Group has secured the rights to acquire 45 acres of land off of Route 181, along the Massachusetts state border, and the operators of the Twin River Casino in Lincoln plan to build a new casino there with about 1,000 slot machines and 30 to 40 table games, said John Taylor, the group's chairman.
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The existing gambling license at Newport Grand, which Twin River acquired last month, would be transferred to the new casino, but voters must approve the plan first, Taylor said. He said he hopes to see the question on the ballot in November 2016.
The new facility would be a "convenience casino that fits in with the local community," Taylor said, and would not compete with Twin River for clientele.
"It's not a net-sum game," he said.
Gambling revenue in Rhode Island is expected to take a hit approaching $100 million a year because of new casinos and gambling facilities in Massachusetts in coming years. A 1,250-machine slot parlor in Plainville, Massachusetts, is to open as early as June, and analysts predict Rhode Island's lottery revenues will take a hit almost immediately.
Lottery revenues are the third largest source of revenues in Rhode Island. Last fiscal year, revenues were $376.3 million, and $293.8 million of that came from Twin River, according to the state Department of Revenue's Office of Revenue Analysis.
Relocating the casino to Tiverton makes sense, Taylor said, because of Newport Grand's location and the city's reticence to expand gambling there. Newport residents have twice voted against adding tables games.
Twin River Management Group acquired Newport Grand last month, but the merger is subject to approval from the state lottery and the state Department of Business Regulation. Taylor said the deal should close by June 30.
Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a statement that the proposal could be "beneficial for the state," while House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello expressed his unequivocal approval.
"I have always been a supporter of Twin River and I applaud them for their creativity and their willingness to invest in our state," Mattiello said in a statement.
A message left for Tiverton Town Council president Denise deMedeiros was not immediately returned.