Growing concerns over Rhode Island’s future gaming revenues

by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

Soon there will be more than harness racing at the Plainridge race course. Ground will be broken here Friday for the first slot parlor in Massachusetts. Right down the street at a local salon, they styling hair, and painting nails and hoping the new neighbor will pay off big for them.

“I'm actually very, very excited. I just think it's going to bring a ton of new business into our small little town of Plainville,” said Tracy Narold, owner of “10 Hair and Nails” in Plainville.

In fact Massachusetts projects over 400 million dollars in new gaming tax revenue in the first five years, and that's not counting spin off business. 

“They can come in and get their nails done, and a color and a cut, or a blow dry, and go up to the casino and hopefully win big,” said Narold.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, “The gaming industry, by its very nature, is about winners and losers, and what may be Massachusetts big win, could be Rhode Island's big loss.”

There are concerns about Twin River in Lincoln, which just expanded to table games last year. Gaming revenue is now Rhode Island's third leading source of tax revenue.

“Well they think we are going to lose about a third, is my understanding, so that's a hundred and fifty million dollars, so of course we have to account for that somewhere in our budget,” said rep. Patricia Morgan, (R) West Warwick-Coventry.

Over four years, Rhode Island could be a half-billion dollars in the hole. Because of Bay State gamblers who don't visit Twin River anymore.

“Well we already have a deficit; this is just going to add to the deficit,” Rep. Morgan added.

Morgan says Rhode Island needs to do more to attract new businesses, and quit betting on gaming revenue.