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Potential Gambling Expansion in Rhode Island with Tribal Help—Side 1

1 March 2011 by admin

The Twin River casino in Rhode Island is in need of a new owner. The Narragansett Indian tribe would love to be its new owners and operators, and turn the slots parlor into a full scale brick and mortar casino. The idea is that there is money to be had for both the tribe and for Rhode Island in a full scale casino with blackjack, poker and other table games as opposed to a slots parlor.

The only problem is that the tribe cannot foot the bill on their own. However Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas is eye balling the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Under the Act it might just be possible for the Narragansetts to partner with an interested party to take the land and the casino into trust, which would then allow the tribe to run it as a full fledged casino.

But there are steps that the tribe would have to go through after taking the land in trust and before running the Twin River. For starters the Secretary of the Interior has to believe that casino operations on the newly acquired land would be in the best interest of tribe. The potential casino also has to be determined to not be harmful to the community around the casino. And finally the governor, in this case it would be Governor Chafee, would have to approve of the casino opening.

If the Narragansetts can take the land into trust and operate the Twin River with a partner through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act it would allow for the casino to open sooner rather than waiting for after it is voted on in the 2012 election. The tribe views a sooner opening as a good thing as it will allow Rhode Island to compete for casino patrons, and therefore for revenue, with neighboring states’ casinos before patrons become too established at out-of-state casinos.

As Thomas put it in a letter to Chafee, “We would like the opportunity to discuss partnering with the State and doing a venture under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. With your support, this is something that could happen in short term, allowing Rhode Island to move quickly ahead of our neighboring states. There would be no need to amend our State’s constitution or wait until a general election year for a vote and, thus, missing out to our neighbors. The opportunity to increase revenue and jobs could immediately benefit all Rhode Islanders

As of now Chafee is on the mum, similar to how New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not saying a word about anything to do with gambling. A spokesman for Chafee said, “The governor is certainly going to meet with them [the Narragansett] and listen to them, but he has not developed any firm or specific notion as to the best role for the Narragansett Indian Tribe as we look at possibly expanding gaming in Rhode Island.”

Naturally, there is opposition. There is always opposition. This afternoon we will look at what the opposition to the Narragansett Tribe is and why there

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