Jones: Fear tactics
swayed R.I. vote

Dec 5, 2006 5:31 AM

Opponents of a proposed Rhode Island casino succeeded with a campaign based on fear.

That is the assessment of Harrah’s Senior V.P. Jan Jones who watched the company’s effort to launch a joint venture casino project in Rhode Island go down in flames on election day.

Jones says a constitutional change was necessary for the company and its partner, the Narragansett Indian Tribe to move ahead with the casino venture.

Jones says there were ads with pictures of young children peering over the edge of crap tables, ads that suggested the approval of the plan would have helped unleash a crime wave on the small state.

"And the thing is," she says, "much of the opposition was fueled by the special interests of existing gaming operations," businesses that included two tracks with slots within the state and the two large Indian casinos in neighboring Connecticut.

Other opposition came from the state’s "blue bloods," who decided that if gaming was not going to do anything for them then they were not interested.

The Rhode Island failure, she said, is another illustration that efforts to introduce legal casinos work best when it is government that is willing to take the leap.