Newport Grand To City: Screw You Guys, We’re Going To Tiverton

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Twin River may have found a way to slice the Gordian knot faced by the Newport casino.

Newport Grand is facing an uncertain future.  The casino lost a referendum that would allow it to have table games. Its revenues are down and Massachusetts is expanding its own casinos, with plenty of developers’ eyes looking at the South Coast area.

So Twin River wants to move Newport Grand to Fall River’s doorstep in Tiverton. This could be a move of strategic genius. Tiverton doesn’t have any billionaire heiresses looking to leave a mark on its history. We’re guessing that there might be some opposition from Fall River residents to having a casino 400 feet from their border…but they can’t vote against it. Likewise, it’s unlikely that Tiverton residents are going to be that worried about a development that might block their amazing view of…the New Harbor Mall and…that building that Shaws used to be in.tiverton-proposal-twin-river

State voters have proven to be very pro-gambling. The state voted to approve table games at Newport Grand by 57%. 65.9% of Tiverton voted to approve, meaning that a referendum on the 2016 ballot would have a very good chance of success, even if Tivertonians catch a little case of the NIMBYs.

The location reflects Twin River going on the offensive. There had been concern that if Massachusetts built a casino in Fall River or New Bedford, it would bleed away gamblers heading to Newport Grand. Now, a Rhode Island casino next to Fall River would mean that the South Coast, at least as far as New Bedford, would be less appealing for the development of another casino. Why fight nearby competition when Massachusetts has so much virgin territory?

Of course, none of this is set in stone. A $150k political opposition campaign stopped table games in Newport, despite almost a million dollars being spent by Joe Paolino and Co. There was plenty of money in Citizens Concerned About Casino Gambling’s war chest from out-of-state casinos. It’s pretty likely that any interests hoping to build their own casinos on the Massachusetts South Coast will be throwing as much money as possible to stop Rhode Island (and especially Tiverton) voters from approving a full-blown casino a stone’s throw from Massachusetts. There’s a big difference between reducing regional competition for Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun and preventing a local competitor from setting up shop.

-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Gaming Correspondent

Tristan's just this guy, ya know?