Rhode Island's House Finance Committee held a hearing yesterday on a bill that seeks a referendum to amend the state's constitution in order to allow table games at the two licensed slot parlors in that state but no vote was taken on that bill.
Supporters of the bill say that table games are needed to make the slot parlors more competitive with the tribal casinos in Connecticut and the casinos that are likely to spring up in Massachusetts.
Twin River, one of the two slot parlors, filed for bankruptcy protection last year to rid the entity of hundreds of millions of dollars of debt. Nonetheless, the two slot parlors pay the state a hefty 61 percent of their slot revenue which restults in about $300 million in annual revenue for the state.
George Papanier, president and chief operating officer of UTGR which owns Twin River, told lawmakers at the hearing that that expanding gambling at Twin River would not need a constitutional amendement because the slot parlors are effectively run by the state.
Narragansett Tribe Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas was in attendance but did not speak. In 2006, a referendum for a Tribal casino in West Warwick that would have been managed by Harrahs was voted down. The proposed constitutional amendement this year does not include the Narragansett Tribe, only the two licensed slot parlors.
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