To Dan Bucci, turning away hundreds of potential slot players each weekend is a travesty both for his racetrack, Lincoln Greyhound Park, and for the tax collectors of Rhode Island.
So he thought adding new machines would be a win/win situation for everyone. But, that’s not the way it has played out. Last week, the Rhode Island Lottery Commission, the group responsible for slot machine activity in that state, postponed a vote on the expansion of gaming “until the state has a better idea of this year’s budget shortfall.”
But the vote didn’t please the Commission’s chairwoman, Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, who told newsmen that she and two of her colleagues were prepared to vote favorably for the addition of 500 slots at the dog track and another 150 slots at the Newport jai-alai fronton.
There were another five members of the Commission who outvoted the trio. They wanted to keep the question open until the state’s finances, which appear to have taken a turn for the worse, are better defined.
The 650 machines suggested by those who wanted the matter settled immediately were substantially less than the 1,825 machines sought by the track and the fronton. Still they will now have more time to lobby the Commission members.
“I think the budget should drive the commission, not the other way around,” said a prominent state representative.
Bucci, obviously disappointed by the Commission action, said it didn’t make sense that “we are sending hundreds of Rhode Island residents away on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays because we simply don’t have the supply of machines to meet the demand”¦We are looking to infuse $30 million into the economy, employ a couple of hundred extra residents when the state is showing a deficit of $70 million. We thought those planets aligned perfectly.”