Council hears argument against Newport Grand expansion

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Opponents of the proposed expansion of Newport Grand made their stance clear before city councilors Wednesday night.

About a dozen members of “Citizens Concerned About Casino Gambling” went before the Newport City Council, arguing the expanded casino would take away from tourism dollars and hurt the local economy.

A group of investors expressed interest in purchasing the slot parlor earlier this month, but only if they could bring in table games.

“We think there are better jobs available if we use all that area and use the intelligence of the people rather than just rolling the dice,” said Rev. Eugene McKenna.

The investment group, led by former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino Jr., plans to urge the General Assembly to add a referendum to the November ballot asking residents to approve the addition of table games. A similar proposal failed in 2012.

“The lure of gambling is so huge that we knew that people eventually, they won’t give up. We just thought they’d give us a few years of a break,” Rev. McKenna added. “I never thought they’d come back in two years. It’s kind of insulting.”

The investors will get a chance to unveil their plan and take a gamble on the $40-million expansion at the council’s next meeting on May 28. The opponents said they plan on attending that meeting as well.

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