Rhode Island voters approve Twin River full casino expansion

Nov 12, 2012 9:52 AM

Roulette wheels could be spinning as early as July at Twin River after voters overwhelmingly approved the slot parlor’s plans to become a full casino.

Twin River hopes to begin offering table games like blackjack and craps as early as July 1, John Taylor Jr., chairman of the Twin River board of directors, said Friday. But first the facility in Lincoln must renovate space for 65 gambling tables, recruit and train 350 new workers and pass a litany of state licensing requirements.

Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly endorsed Twin River’s proposal to offer table games to compete with casinos now authorized to be built in Massachusetts.

Those casinos are still years away from opening. Twin River’s head start will give it time to build customer loyalty, according to state Rep. William San Bento, D-Pawtucket, who pushed to get the Twin River casino question on this year’s ballot.

“Once Massachusetts starts to build, it’s still going to take three or four years before they open,” San Bento said. “It’s major that we are going to be up and running first.”

It’s possible table games could be operational at Twin River before July 1, Taylor said. The date will depend on how quickly state gambling regulators approve the slot parlor’s plans.

To accommodate the expansion, Twin River plans to hire 350 dealers, managers, security guards, backroom accountants and cashiers. A job fair is planned for Wednesday for those interested in working as dealers or managers.

The facility now employs 900 people.

When table games do begin at Twin River, poker might not be one of them. Taylor said poker would require a separate room, and the slot parlor’s executives haven’t yet decided whether the game would be a good fit for Twin River.

“We’re spending a lot of time right now trying to figure out whether the market can support a poker room,” he said. “It’s a question mark.”

The Newport Grand slot parlor had also sought permission for table games, and while voters statewide supported the idea Tuesday, local voters balked. Casino referendums must pass both statewide and in a facility’s host community to be approved.

The state’s two slot parlors now contribute about $300 million a year to state coffers.

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