2014-05-29 / Opinion

One Step Towards Easing Economy

To the Editor:

Rhode Island, once again, has an opportunity to address its greatest need, jobs and the economy.

A group of investors, led by local entrepreneur Joseph Paolino, has presented an offer to purchase and upgrade the Newport Grand Slots venue. This is contingent upon the state and city of Newport allowing the new owners to add table games.

This change admittedly is not a panacea to remedy all the state’s, or even the city’s job issues. But, it’s one step in a series of other coordinated steps to address Rhode Island’s ailing job and economy problems.

The consequences of kicking this can off the bridge are clear, another lost opportunity to address the state’s most critical issues. The anticipated consequences of the status quo at Newport Grand are credible: an immediate loss of anticipated jobs in construction, gaming and hospitality associated with the upgrade of venue; loss of potential tax revenue from new table games; and jeopardizing existing tax revenues from the Newport Grand Slots caused by a decline in patronage from the pending opening of a full gaming facility in either Fall River or one of the other, nearby, proposed Massachusetts gaming sites.

While we can continue to debate the merits and pitfalls of gaming in Rhode Island, we will, by default, preserve the highest unemployment rate in the country, witness dwindling tax revenues which perpetuate the ongoing erosion of the state’s infrastructure and its educational system, especially in the urban areas, pleading for investment.

Mr Paolino wants to build, as he’s described, a “first class, boutique, gaming destination compatible with the rest of the Newport community”.

Let’s get it done so we can aggressively and collaboratively move on to the next challenge to fix this beautiful state. Rhode Islanders deserve nothing less. Stephen Cronin


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