Taking high Rhode: Boyd sole player in Warwick

Apr 9, 2002 1:56 AM

Boyd Gaming has beaten the Rhode Island state legislature to the punch.

The gambling corporation giant gained the exclusive rights to develop a casino in West Warwick until the general election in 2004, according to a Providence Journal report.

Thus, Boyd has a two-year head start on the state House of Representatives, which is slated to vote on a measure that could shut down casino proposals until 2004.

There is a casino referendum on the 2004 ballot that, if approved, would open up gaming bids to other corporations. Boyd’s exclusivity agreement comes at a cost. The company will pay West Warwick $50,000 by July 1, plus $25,000 per quarter thereafter. The first payment is already in the county’s hands.

This is the second time Boyd has jumped into the New England market as a sole player. Boyd had paid $100,000 to the Rhode Island town in 2000 when joining with the Narragansetts tribe in placing a casino referendum on the ballot.

Harrah’s, another Las Vegas-based casino giant, emerged in past weeks as Boyd’s rival for a casino in Rhode Island. Jan Jones, former Mayor of Las ­­Vegas and current senior vise president of government relations at Harrah’s, criticized West Warwick’s agreement with Boyd.

“The state could decide that the casino is best in Providence,” Jones said.

Boyd Gaming owns Stardust, Sam’s Town, California Hotel, Fremont, Jokers Wild, Main Street Station and Eldorado in Las Vegas. They also have properties outside Nevada.

Gaming study backed

Maybe, gaming in Maine has a chance after all.

The State House has agreed to a study of building a casino, following a 94-46 vote endorsing a Senate-backed bill, according to the Portland Press Herald.

The task force will await funding and one last vote in the Senate. Both hurdles are expected to be cleared, with the plan going on to the governor for his signature.

   Gov. Angus King, who has been opposed to casino gaming, will most likely sign the bill, according to a spokesman. Reportedly, King has no objections to the concept of a study.