November 22, 2011

Deval Patrick Signs Twin Rivers' Death Warrant

Patrick Laverty

Today, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill into law that will allow for up to three casinos in the Bay State. One of which that is being discussed is a full-blown destination resort casino run by an Indian tribe. The leading candidate for this casino seems to be the Wampanoags in southeastern Mass. They're looking for land in the Middleboro/Mashpee/Fall River area.

Other casinos, including one being slots-only, could go into a current horse-racing track, possibly even the Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, not far from the Rhode Island border.

If people can just drive less than 30 minutes and get to a full-blown Vegas style casino, why wouldn't they go there, to have the full array of gaming options, including table games, instead of only having the slots available at Twin River?

So how much could be lost by Rhode Island? According to the Providence Journal's Randal Edgar, the state took in $270.4M last year. Rhode Island's annual budget is about $7 billion, approximately half of which is federally funded. So if RI revenues are about $3.5 billion, what happens when you remove about $270 million from that number?

Now, RI wants to look into allowing the slots parlors to have table games? This seems like too little, too late. Mass beat us to the punch, and that's where the money will go.

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Not a death knell but a cool $150 million a year out of the hands of the Smith Hill maggots.
More cuts and pension reforms to come.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at November 22, 2011 7:54 PM

Seems to me that when you're betting on entertainment and gambling to keep your economy going, perhaps you had first look to the states who have done it "the best" first, before you plunge in.

Unemployment Rates (seasonally adjusted)
13.4%(p) in Oct 2011

Rhode Island
10.4%(p) in Oct 2011

"Tourism, Gaming, & Entertainment is a core industry in Nevada that accounts for more than 350,000
jobs and 24% of total state employment. It includes services and activities in accommodations, food
and beverage, gaming, recreation & sports, arts & culture, and entertainment. The industry has
been traditionally concentrated in the Las Vegas metro area, employing an estimated 291,626
workers in that region (82% of the state’s total jobs in this industry), and also yields an extremely
high employment concentration ratio of 2.814 in the Las Vegas metro area." -- Referenced from a public SRI International audit of Nevada State Commerce (11-14-2011) --

So you're right, let's not give up on this opportunity to be more like Nevada... giving up what little precious land there is in RI for new casinos, or just increasingly the gambling in old casinos.

Should I do a crime rate analysis (per capita) of Las Vegas and Providence, or can you figure out where that's going too? This map will certainly start the ball rolling (

RI always has this little chip on its shoulder when it comes to CT and MA. We *hate* it when CT or MA does something first or better than we do. And yet, maybe they are wrong on this one?

Has anyone stopped to consider that sometimes a competition for a piece of garbage is not a competition you want to win?

Posted by: jparis at November 23, 2011 5:13 AM

jparis, I'm not going to dispute any of your facts. I agree that casinos do bring in more crime. But any time you have an area with more money, there's more crime.

However, you miss the original point. Currently, RI is bringing in $270M a year in gambling revenues. A casino near the RI border will dry that up to the point where Twin River files for bankruptcy for real and shuts its doors, eliminating that $270M revenue stream. How does that get made up in the budget? Are you for cutting social services? Where else do those cuts come from? Or increase property taxes? How do we make up the difference?

Posted by: Patrick at November 23, 2011 9:08 AM

Fair enough Patrick, and I do agree that no one who doesn't live extremely close to Twin Rivers (and loves slots) is going to go there when there are options across both borders for table gaming.

Of course my first point is that we shouldn't have invested in private gambling businesses at all in the first place. If the Narragansetts had gotten their casino, I wouldn't have cared quite as much, but even then, it's still not a positive net effect on the local area... no matter who owns it.

So we're stuck now with something I personally never wanted and now you (rightly so) argue is going to go down the tubes. My solution?

You know my solution Patrick. No one over here likes to hear it though. It involves more progressive taxation, and the promise that we won't invest in similarly stupid revenue streams in the future.

That said, I guess I'll flamebait some folks (not you)?

Raise that top income tax bracket (covering people making more than $357,000 a year -- pretty sweet cash for RI's cost of living) from the current 9.9% to something a little more in-tune with reality. I mean the tax bracket below that ($164,000 - $357,000) only pays 0.9% less, and the 7.75% and 7% "middle and low middle" tax brackets don't exactly make RI's income tax very progressive (in the direct sense of the word) at all.

Property taxes are NOT a progressive tax, and they discourage home ownership in a state that already has too many vacant or foreclosing properties.

We've already cut social services (at least in many urban areas) -- cutting them more is going to put us at a breaking point.

But you know, if we tax them even a little more, those Earls might flee to Mass. Alan Hassenfeld told me so.

Posted by: jparis at November 23, 2011 1:52 PM

Ok, but would that tax change be enough to make up $270M? Maybe that's a question for mangeek as he often seems to know more about the tax revenues and what tax bracket they come from.

Posted by: Patrick at November 23, 2011 2:45 PM

First, license and tax local bookies.

Second, encourage RI corporations to open pawn shops near the MA casinos.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 23, 2011 8:03 PM

I take back what I said, and hereby withdraw from this debate to support WF's position.

Posted by: jparis at November 23, 2011 10:18 PM

I have often marveled at the transformation of gambling ("gaming") from a "crime" to a "sacrament"

Posted by: Warringtn Faust at November 24, 2011 9:02 AM
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