Tiverton casino proposal needs state, local approval in November

TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — When Rhode Island voters cast their ballots in November, they’ll have to decide whether or not they want a new casino to be built in Tiverton.

The issue has been hotly contested since the proposal was announced in April of last year. Some residents say it would bring much needed revenue to the state while others believe it would do more harm than good.

“What we’re proposing here is a convenience casino,” said Twin River CEO John Taylor. “Some place that’s easy to come, spend a few hours and leave.”

If ballot question #1 is approved, Newport Grand will be moved to a new facility 400 feet from the Massachusetts border.

Rev. John Higginbotham of Holy Trinity Church in Tiverton is on the opposing side. He said he’s worried gambling addiction, as well as an increase in crime and traffic that a casino might bring.

“You’re going to have 4,000 cars – and this is the Twin River estimate – coming to that facility every day,” he explained.

Taylor said the new casino would create at least 500 new jobs and would generate about $50 million in state revenue annually, along with $4 million of revenue to Tiverton each year.

“We’re optimistic that voters will be supportive on election day,” Taylor added. “The only thing that’s going to stop this casino is the people of Tiverton.”

The casino must not only be approved statewide, but it also has to pass in a separate question on Tiverton ballots.

The Associated Press found the casino proposal is the only question out of seven dominating broadcast television airtime.

The data also showed more than $370,000 was spent on television advertisements supporting the proposal.