Rhode Island voters, especially those in Newport, could have a chance this fall to make a major contribution to the state’s economic future.
The opportunity should come in the form of a ballot question on whether to allow table games to become part of the gambling offerings at Newport Grand.
The proposed new ownership group, led by former Providence Mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr., has said it will stay in the existing building, and in fact will invest upwards of $40 million to upgrade the facility, adding a spa, restaurant and more nongambling entertainment options, an approach that counters much of the opposition to the same ballot measure two years ago.
Steps one and two call for the General Assembly to place the question on the November ballot and Newport City Council to endorse the plan. Step three is up to voters, and the stakes of this vote couldn’t be higher.
With a new slots parlor arriving in Plainville, Mass., and at least one resort casino coming to Bristol County, Mass., the state’s revenue stream is in extreme jeopardy. If Newport Grand is not allowed to expand its options, it soon will go out of business, and the state, as well as Newport itself, will lose a significant amount of money and nearly 200 jobs, something that will be very difficult to replace. •