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Rhode Island Slot Parlor Seeks Casino Expansion

8 February 2011 by admin

twin river casinoStop me if you’ve heard this before: The owners of a slot parlor in Rhode Island are again seeking permission to expand into a full casino. Okay, maybe not the Rhode Island part (unless you follow Rhode Island news), but the rest of it is pretty common.

When cities, counties or states first decide to allow gambling, they usually start small. They aren’t willing to say “yeah, we don’t have any gambling here, except for the lottery, but let’s put some enormous Vegas-style casinos in.” Instead, they opt for a smaller change, adding slot parlors. The slot parlors are smaller and for some reason seem to be less opposed by the anti-gambling crowd than a full-scale casino. Doing so, however, gives up a lot of money by not offering other games people like. Slots may be popular, but so are blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette, keno, poker and more. Full casinos are more exciting and they draw in more customers, which means more money generated by the business.

Therefore, virtually every slot parlor dreams of one day expanding into a full casino. The problem is that, unlike most other businesses, the owners can’t simply decide to expand their business to make more money. They require the approval of the government and a new license from regulators. Both are hard to come by. The owners of the Twin River slot parlor in Lincoln, Rhode Island have tried to expand to a casino before and now they are making a new push with a new government.

Today John Taylor, the chairman of Twin River’s board of directors, will reveal the results of a recent study of the economic impact of expanding into a full casino. Since he has not yet released the results, I don’t know what they’ll be, but they can probably be paraphrased as “it would be a good thing.” In his meeting with the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Taylor hopes to convince local lawmakers and the governor to let his company expand from a slot parlor into a full casino that operates table games and more.

According to Taylor, expanding his business into a casino that includes table games would result in adding 650 jobs and would bring in an additional $60 million in tax revenue for the state. Of course, taxation is a tricky issue when it comes to Twin River.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the town of Lincoln overassessed the slot parlor over the last two years, resulting in the business being charged too much for taxes. Though no exact number has been given yet, it is believed that Twin River will receive a rebate of approximately $1.8 million for the overassessment. The mistake was due to an overvaluing of improvements that the owners made to the slot parlor. According to Judge Allen Rubine, the town overassessed the business by $45 million in 2007 and by $41 million in 2009. The town has the option of appealing that ruling to the state Supreme Court.

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