Newport mayor: city has to consider all options on Newport Grand
“Slippage” has been a familiar term in Rhode Island’s perennial casino debates. But state officials now have to worry about a different kind of slippage — the damage posed to one of RI’s largest revenue sources by the advent of new casinos in Massachusetts. The extent to which this slippage can be limited promises to be one of the state’s top stories in 2012 and beyond.
The ProJo’s estimable Katherine Gregg got the ball rolling with a story Saturday, indicating how Newport may be becoming more receptive to expanded gambling at Newport Grand. Most significantly, the story had Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed anticipating General Assembly passage if the Newport council backs handing the question — whether Newport Grand should add table games — to voters next November.
For his part, Newport Mayor Stephen Waluk tells me the city should keep an open mind about the future of Newport Grand:
Obviously, the paradigm has shifted a bit, and we need to consider all options, look at the facts as we have them, considering expansion in Massachusetts is now going to happen. We do take in a lot of revenue from Newport Grand, so we need to engage the community and just see what people think, and what’s best for the City of Newport overall.
Waluk says Newport receives more than $1 million each year from Newport Grand through taxes and other sources. The slot parlor also employs about 200 people.
The Newport Daily News tweeted this morning that Newport Grand CEO Diane Hurley may ask the Newport City Council to vote in favor of adding table games at the slot parlor.
As of later this morning, Waluk says he hadn’t been contacted by Hurley to talk about expanding gambling.
Asked whether Newport’s City Council will pursue the issue, he says, “It really has to come from the folks at Newport Grand.”