TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Twin River announced plans on Tuesday to move Newport Grand to a new facility in the north end of Tiverton.
The casino’s management group has already secured the purchase rights to about 45 acres of land just off Route 81, right near the Massachusetts border. That’s where – if they can win over the town council, the General Assembly, then ultimately voters – they intend to build a new casino containing between 1,000 and 1,100 slot machines and 30 to 40 table games.
Tiverton is considered a quiet town, located right on the water with plenty of space, but that could all soon change.
“It’s a low-key area, bringing a casino might bring things that we would rather not have here,” said resident Brett Arruda. “I don’t think it will create any jobs that anyone would want really. Overall I think it’s a bad move for Tiverton.”
John Taylor, the chairman of Twin River’s management group, urges residents to give the proposal a chance before forming a strong opinion about it.
“What I would say to the people of Tiverton is keep an open mind, and to participate in this process to see what might be possible,” said Taylor.
Liz Tabor, of Citizens Concerned About Casino Gambling, fought hard last year to prevent Newport Grand from adding table games, and intends to remain vocal about the new proposal.
“Our concern focuses more that whatever is brought in is not a detriment to the residents, and it’s not a focus of the state to try to increase gambling and gambling addictions in the state,” she said.
Tabor is not concerned about Newport losing any money over the move, instead calling it “an exciting opportunity” for the city.
“I think there were concerns for start-up businesses to be located so close to a gambling casino,” she explained. “If that were the case, we would certainly like it to be used for more sustainable, long-term economic development for the city and better-paying jobs.”
As for the current employees of Newport Grand, Taylor said there will be jobs for them.
“We have every expectation those people would become the seed pool for the new Tiverton location,” he said.
A town meeting is scheduled for May 4 to go over the plan with residents. If the proposal is eventually approved, it could potentially go on the ballot as soon as next November to be voted upon by both Tiverton voters and Rhode Island voters as a whole.
During last year’s election, 66% of Tiverton residents voted in favor of the proposal to add table games at Newport Grand.