Indians support BYD in Rhode Island

Apr 2, 2002 7:15 AM

Loyalty is coming to the fore in the Narraganzett Indians’ attempt to get a casino in Rhode Island, but time is also becoming a major factor.

Last week, West Warwick town officials, who have a commitment to the Narragansett Tribe to put a casino in an area of their community designated for industrial growth, said they were prepared to pass a resolution that would give exclusivity to Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD), the company selected by the Narragansetts as its partner in the casino project.

Questioning such a move are officials of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET), whose lobbying efforts to supplant Boyd as the casino developer, has shown increasing strength during the past month.

David Satz, a Harrah’s attorney, called the exclusivity arrangement highly unusual compared to other states where gambling is legalized. But it was noted that the particular issue was not covered by Rhode Island law.

Boyd has agreed to pay the town of West Warwick $25,000 per quarter to assist the town with the financial and legal obligations it would incur while doing the research relative to establishing the casino.

Meanwhile, a prominent lawmaker has proposed that nothing be done until a “comprehensive study” of expanding gaming in the state is conducted. Such a study could put off construction of a casino for two years or more.