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Licht: RI can’t avoid losses if Massachusetts moves ahead with casinos

September 15, 2011

Richard Licht, director of the state Department of Administration, says the development of three casinos and a slot parlor in Massachusetts would inevitably cut into Rhode Island’s gambling revenue stream.

Licht says the time required to develop those projects, approved earlier this week by the Massachusetts House, gives Rhode Island some breathing room. But he says a loss in the Ocean State is unavoidable if Massachusetts moves forward. Rhode Island currently gathers a little less than $300 million a year from Twin River and Newport Grand, the vast chunk of it from the former.

“I’m sure there would be some erosion of the revenue,” Licht said this morning during a taping of Rhode Island Public Radio’s Political Roundtable. “I believe . . . . close to one-third of the activity from the slot parlors comes from out-of-state residents — mostly Massachusetts — so we’re going to lose some of it.”

 The November 2012 ballot will give Rhode Islanders a chance to vote in a statewide referendum on expanding gambling at Twin River in Lincoln. Licht calls that the state’s best hope for protecting its revenue stream from gambling.

The full Roundtable can be heard Friday at 5:40 and 7:40 am and online.

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