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Blackjack Gambling Referendum May Give Rhode Island First Casino

Apr 28, 2011

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Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, may soon join its bigger brothers in allowing casino blackjack games in January 2013.

Rhode Island State Representative William San Bento, the Chairman of the Lottery Oversight Committee, introduced a bill calling for a public referendum to allow casino table games, including blackjack card games, in the Twin River slot parlor in the town of Lincoln.

If the bill is approved, state voters will get a chance to vote on the referendum during the general elections in November 2012. The bill is specifically worded to avoid similar problems as the failed past proposals that would have required a constitutional amendment. To improve the chances of approval, online blackjack games were not included in this bill.

Blackjack card games would only be permitted in just one location within Rhode Island – the Twin River slot parlor. Secondly, the bill only allows “state-operated casino gaming.” Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States, is currently the home of two slot parlors – Twin River and Newport Grand.

If the bill is approved by the General Assembly and in November 2012, the state voters approve the referendum, then by January 2013, Rhode Island will become yet another state to benefit from the opening of a proper casino.

The casino is forecasted to create 650 new jobs and generate upward of $100 million in tax revenues each year. The history of Blackjack casinos throughout the world is practically identical, with job creation and additional tax revenues cited as being the primary reasons for the initial approval.

Rep. San Bento commented that – “the addition of table games could “generate another $100 million in revenue for the state, at a time when we face a significant budget deficit and the potential for cuts in state programs.”

During the past week, in accordance with Rhode Island Law requiring local approval of all new gambling, the Lincoln Town Council approved the blackjack casino expansion plans. Twin River slot parlor currently offers 4,750 video lottery terminals (VLTs), including virtual card games.


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