Legislation seeks voter approval to move Newport Grand operations to site near state line

Both chambers of the General Assembly today gave their final approval to legislation necessary to allow Twin River to transfer its operations at Newport Grand to a new facility in Tiverton, pending approval from voters statewide and in Tiverton.

The legislation, which will now be forwarded to the governor, would put questions on the ballot in November statewide and locally in Tiverton asking voters to approve a gaming facility in that town. Both would have to pass for the move to occur.

“This legislation is about protecting our state’s third-largest revenue source. We can’t allow our gaming facilities to be left behind when newer, bigger facilities open in Massachusetts. Remaining competitive is critical to this industry, and the state has a significant stake in its success. The new facility in Tiverton will keep Rhode Island dollars in Rhode Island, and could bring in money from out-of-staters as well,” said House Majority Leader John J. DeSimone (D-Dist. 5, Providence, who is sponsoring the bill in the House. That bill (2016-H 7228A) passed the Senate today in concurrence with a vote of 33-2, after House passage yesterday.

“Twin River has worked openly and cooperatively with state and local leaders to create a proposal to help the facility thrive and continue to generate revenue that supports our state and the host community. This legislation will allow them to carry it out, with voters’ support. The revenue generated by our state’s two gaming facilities is a critical component of our state budget, allowing us to fund education, social services, infrastructure and more, so allowing Twin River to stay competitive makes a difference in the lives of all Rhode Islanders, even those who never set foot in either facility,” said Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill (2016-S 2081A), which passed the Senate today on a vote of 33-2 and then the House on a vote of 66-3.

Twin River purchased Newport Grand last year and announced its plans to transfer its gaming licenses to a new facility it wishes to build at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road in Tiverton. Newport voters have rejected allowing the slots parlor to add table games to its VLTs, and the new facility very close to the state line would better position Twin River to keep gaming dollars in Rhode Island as new casinos are built in Massachusetts.

Should the ballot questions win approval, the legislation would establish that the state would get 15.5 percent of table games and 61 percent of video lottery terminal (VLT) revenues at both the new Tiverton location and Twin River’s original location in Lincoln.

It also establishes t  hat the host communities of both facilities — Lincoln and Tiverton — keep 1 percent of table game revenue and 1.45 percent of VLT revenue. The bill guarantees the host communities will each receive at least $3 million annually, with any shortfalls being made up out of the state’s share.

The legislation also transfers many of the responsibilities for oversight of gaming facilities’ operation from the Department of Business Regulation to the state Lottery Division.

The Senate bill is cosponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Sen. John A. Pagliarini Jr. (R-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton).

[the_ad_group id=”217″]

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.