RHODE ISLAND'S CULTURE OF ADDICTION
AND ITS INEVITABLE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
Rhode Island opened the door to gaming years ago based on the promise of a new revenue stream to bolster a faltering economy and fund badly needed investments in infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Ocean State has since become dependent on a revenue source widely known to be on the decline. Behaving like an addict, the state is in a panic to secure its next fix, and bad judgment and loss of dignity are usually the tell-tale signs that an addiction has gone too far.

Perhaps the state became too comfortable with the revenues generated by what is fast becoming a "soft" industry. Or maybe they were in denial about the signs of a new generation's loss of interest and the mounting competitive pressures. Either way, Rhode Island's failure to develop more viable and sustainable ways to spark the local economy resulted in its current position between the proverbial rock and hard place.

So, here we sit in 2016, and the state is now engaged in a new kind of drug war to feed its addiction. This war isn't fought between drug lords and enforcement agents, though. The battle is between jurisdictions and community members, but Little Rhody isn't the only one with a gambling problem.

Connecticut facing less revenue and more competition
After experiencing significant declines in slot machine and table game revenue, Connecticut is scrambling to feed its habit by opening new gaming venues. The chart above shows gaming revenue for Foxwoods, and it illustrates a common trend in the gaming industry -- declines. Mohegan Sun's performance is only slightly better. Connecticut hopes to fend off more aniticpated losses as a result of new competition from Massachusetts.

Massachusetts -- a new player in the game
The Bay State has recently opened a "racino" in Plainville, ground has been broken for destination gambling facilities in Springfield and Everett, and a third venue in the southeastern part of the state is under consideration. This is what has Governor Raimondo and Speaker Mattiello in a tailspin. The state projects a facility in nearbly Massachusetts will cut into Rhode Island's supply, and since Newport voters were smart enough to reject Newport Grand's proposal to expand the facility and add table games, the legislature is looking to bail out a corporation and a state. Well, at least that's what we'll call it in a few years.

Rhode Island on a path to self-destruction
Despite all the evidence to suggest that casino gambling is a loser -- declining revenues, declining property values, history of bankruptcies, pleas to modify local agreements, etc. -- the state's leaders are on a desperate mission. That mission will facilitate Rhode Island's spiral down its current path of destruction. And by colluding with Twin River Management Group, our state leaders have placed Tiverton right in the middle of that path.

Finally, Rhode Island and Tiverton will not be the only ones hurt by the reliance on, and potential expansion of, gaming. The poorest and most vulnerable citizens of Rhode Island and nearby southeastern Massachusetts, the people who have been struggling for years, are put most at risk. Gambling is nothing more than yet another tax on the poor. Furthernore, the subsequent financial struggles, foreclosures, family problems, etc. will add to the area's list of significant woes. Don't be fooled. VOTE NO ON 8!

 

 


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