January 6, 2007

Slot Revenue Keeps Going Down, but Budget Never Does

Marc Comtois

Looks like the slot-machine revenue panacea isn't working out too well.

For the first time since video-slot machines were introduced in 1993, both Lincoln Park and Newport Grand are taking in substantially less money than they did the year before.

This could have dramatic consequences for the state, which is already struggling with a $105.1-million shortfall this year and a potential $254-million deficit next year. The state gets about 60 percent of every dollar gamblers lose at the two slot parlors. Only the sales and personal income taxes bring in more revenue.

Apparently, Senate President Montalbano realizes it's time to look elswhere for budget relief:
“We’re always looking for new revenue by way of economic development. But I don’t think it’s anybody’s agenda to expand gambling in Rhode Island,” Montalbano said. “The less we rely on it, the better it is for us. But it’s a fact of being able to fund all of the programs we need to fund. It is our third-largest source [of income] right now.”
I suppose we could try to solve the problem by finding a way to raise more "revenue." But how come no one talks about reducing the the need for more money...you know, budget cuts?

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Could be worse. Mass. could allow gaming facilities and cut RI's revenue from gaming in half. What would RI do then?

Posted by: Anthony at January 6, 2007 12:38 PM


Even if Mass. approves gaming, what's the most likely scenario? Wonderland and Suffolk are attractive to investors, because they are close to Boston. But not Plainville or Raynham, which would require a very high investment to match Linclon Park, with its new expansion and loyalty club programs. Moreover, it doesn't take a genius to see that if BLB Investors want to up the ante, they could quite easily launch a common players club for visitors to Lincoln Park, Mohegan and Paradise Island.

Bottom line: aggressively upgrading Lincoln Park was the smartest move RI could have made to protect its gaming revenue from the threat posed by gaming expansion in Massachusetts.

Posted by: John at January 6, 2007 3:29 PM

Oh. So I shouldn't go back and try to change my vote to yes on One ...?

Spending increases on the state level over the last 8-10 years have been indefensible. The budget has tripled as the population has remained level. How does that compute?

There is one area of spending that would be easy for the General Assembly to address. "The Speaker announced today that spending on social programs will be adjusted so that the benefits offered by Rhode Island match those offered by surrounding states."

Posted by: SusanD at January 7, 2007 8:45 AM

i personally think blb wants the numbers to be bad so it will force the state to give them gaming tables

Posted by: daveofri1 at January 7, 2007 10:15 AM
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