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Potential Gambling Expansion in Rhode Island with Tribal Help—Side 2

1 March 2011 by admin

This morning I began discussing how the Narragansett Tribe in Rhode Island is making another bid towards operating their own brick and mortar casino like so many other sovereign tribes do. And every time they have tried to gain a brick and mortar casino, they have failed. Something always gets in the way.

Well now the slots parlor Twin Rivers is up for sale and while the Narragansetts cannot afford it on their own, they are hoping that they can partner with the State of Rhode Island under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to take the land that Twin Rivers is on in trust and then operate their own casino after converting the Twin Rivers into a full fledged brick and mortar casino.

In a letter to the Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas proposed that the state and the tribe work together so that the state does not have to wait for a general election to change the slots parlor into a casino, which will give them a better shot at competing with the casinos of nearby states.

But like any debate, there is another side. And the lawyers and politicians are more focused on money. It is estimated that Rhode Island will make around $261 million from the Twin River this year. Financial analysts for the state’s lawyers who are against the gambling expansion (these lawyers who are against the gambling expansion are probably conservatives) say that the state could lose more than $100 million if Rhode Island moves forward and enters into a partnership with the Narragansett Tribe.

Joseph Larisa, one of those lawyers who is against a gambling expansion in Rhode Island, has cited that the Narragansetts may not even be legally able to take the land into trust since they were not recognized in 1934. But that would restrict the tribe from taking land into trust for housing, and not for the purpose of business, such as operating a casino. According to tribal lawyer John Killoy, there are two separate laws here, one for land for housing and one for land for commercial purposes. Killoy maintains that the two laws have “separate and distinct mechanisms” for the acquisition of land.

But here is what I do not get. Sure Rhode Island’s profit from Twin Rivers stands to be lower during the time frame it would take to implement the expansion to add table games like blackjack, poker and roulette. But it has been proven that profits to states who go through a gambling expansion have increased. So while the in the year the Twin River undergoes expansion there would be less than $261 million made, in the years following it is likely that profit will surpass $261 million. Not to mention that a gambling expansion would create jobs.

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