LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — Twin River Management Group announced Wednesday that it has entered into an agreement to purchase Newport Grand Casino.
The sale is expected to close no later than June 30 and is subject to regulatory approvals, as well as other closing conditions.
“As a company headquartered in Rhode Island, we understand how important the future of Newport Grand is to the State and when the acquisition opportunity presented itself, believed that we might be best qualified to preserve and possibly enhance that revenue and protect valuable jobs,” said John E. Taylor, Jr., chairman of the board of directors of Twin River Worldwide Holdings.
The purchase price was not disclosed.
Taylor also said the company would not seek to offer table games at Newport Grand without community support and in particular, will not pursue a ballot measure in the 2016 general election.
“We are well aware of the fact that the Newport community is not now in favor of any expansion of gaming at Newport Grand and may never be. While we believe that would aid considerably in the property’s long term ability to compete in an increasingly challenging gaming marketplace, we will respect the wishes of the community.”
City residents rejected a ballot question last November that would’ve allowed table games at Newport Grand. The vote followed months of heated debate, with supporters saying the expansion would create hundreds of jobs and opponents arguing it would negatively impact the community.
Citizens Against Casino Gambling, a nonprofit who provided much of the backlash against the addition of table games, issued a statement Wednesday in response to the proposed sale.
“We note that Twin River Management Group stated they will not pursue a ballot measure in the 2016 election cycle. However, we will remain active and engaged to ensure that they honor their pledge to our community,” said President Liz Taber. “We will also continue to work to promote policies to help small businesses and support sustainable economic development projects.”
Gov. Gina Raimondo noted Newport Grand’s struggles in her statement, saying the most important thing is to stay competitive in a growing casino market.
“We have a projected $200 million budget deficit this year – in addition, we are under-investing in building skills, attracting businesses and strengthening our infrastructure. Due to anticipated gaming competition from our neighbors, our budget challenges are projected to worsen in the years ahead,” she said.
The governor went on to say “We need to examine ways to remain competitive. Twin River has been an important corporate citizen. Its proposed purchase of Newport Grand may help reverse the trend of declining revenues from the Aquidneck Island gaming facility. We look forward to learning more about the proposal.”
Citizens Against Casino Gambling will discuss the issue at their next meeting on Saturday, March 7 at 10 a.m. at the Newport Public Library.