Lincoln gambling facility hasn't even asked for one, and council president says town doesn't want one
By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — Southern New England's casino arms race recently spilled over into the Statehouse. Concerns about a proposed slot-machine parlor in nearby Plainville, Mass., has state representatives raising the kitty by seeking permission to build a hotel at Twin River Casino in Lincoln.
Rep. Robert Phillips, D-Woonsocket, said he introduced the bill (H7350) because the Plainville facility — an 18-mile drive from Twin River — will steal money from the state’s third-largest source of revenue: gambling. He noted that the owners of Twin River Casino haven't asked for a hotel. But, “we’re going to start losing revenue,” Phillips said during a May 7 hearing.
The proposed expansion of the Plainridge Racecourse would feature 1,250 slot machines. The Plainridge Park Casino is scheduled to open next spring. Twin River has 4,500 slot and video gambling machines. It added 80 gambling tables in 2013.
There are no plans for a hotel in Lincoln, but other casino hotels in the region offer an idea of what to expect. The Foxwoods Tower, one of four hotels at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn., has 800 rooms, 30 floors and includes amenities such as a 5,000-square-foot pool, multiple bars and lounges, banquet facilities, conference rooms, a spa, locker rooms, bowling alley, driving range, hair salon and fitness center.
By comparison, the Biltmore Hotel has 18 floors and 294 rooms. The Omni Providence Hotel has 25 floors and 564 rooms.
At the recent hearing, Lincoln Town Council President Keith Macksoud opposed the legislation, saying it's another predetermined decision that has led to the facility’s transition from a dog track to a slot parlor to a casino.
“The town has always felt that this is something that is being forced down our throat,” Macksoud said.
A 2012 report released by Smith College says hotels and casinos can be some of the largest power users in a community and can have significant environmental impacts. In recent years several casinos, such as Foxwoods, have made efforts to reduce energy use.
“If you’re going to build them, build them green,” the report says.
Twin River Casino is close to environmentally sensitive wetlands that feed into Olney Pond at Lincoln Woods State Park.