RI approves Tiverton casino; still needs local approval

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Whether the owners of Twin River get to build a new casino in Tiverton will be decided after roughly 800 mail ballots are counted.

“I think we’ll have to wait for the beginning of the next chapter,” Twin River chairman John Taylor told a crowd of supporters gathered in Tiverton Tuesday night. Taylor said there were roughly 270 more votes to approve the casino than reject it, but there were still upwards of 800 mail ballots to be counted. With so many local votes still in flux, Taylor said they needed to wait before declaring victory.

“This is absolutely incredible for the town of Tiverton,” said Cameron Ramsay, co-organizer of the group No Tiverton Casino. “Even though the state and every politician in this town thought that [Tiverton residents] were for this, they’ve learned differently and will know in the next couple of days.”

Ramsay said it speaks volumes that so many residents opposed the casino, despite a nearly $5 million campaign by Twin River to sway voters statewide and locally to approve the proposal.

Twin River was successful in earning the approval of voters statewide, but without support from Tiverton residents, the proposal cannot move forward.

If Tiverton does approve the plan, Twin River will transfer the gaming license from Newport Grand to a new $75 million dollar casino and hotel near the Fall River line. Newport Grand will either be sold or demolished.

Taylor said the new casino will generate approximately 300 temporary construction jobs and upwards of 550 permanent jobs. Taylor also said it will benefit the local economy and keep Rhode Island competitive in the face of new casinos popping up across the border in Massachusetts.

“Today Twin River generates about $27 million in revenue to the state of Rhode Island,” Taylor told Eyewitness News on Tuesday. “With this proposal it would generate $50 million, but also as much as $70 million depending on competition.”

This was the third straight election cycle that a casino gambling question appeared on the Rhode Island ballot. In 2012, table games were approved at Twin River, but rejected at Newport Grand because the voters in Newport opposed the plan. Two years ago, Newport voters again rejected a plan to add table games.

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