Hitting Pay Dirt

The Providence Journal headlined its January 6, 2007 State House report with these words:

“As slot-machine revenue falls, budget fears rise”.

Conscious of these adverse circumstances, one of Rhode Island’s legislators is looking to expand the types of gambling in hopes of boosting revenue, in spite of the fact that voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to build a casino in the town of West Warwick.

“For more than a decade,” the House report stated, “Rhode Islanders’ appetite for gambling has grown steadily … but now business at the state’s two slot parlors has not only slowed but has actually shrunk.

“For the first time since video-slot machines were introduced in 1993, both Lincoln Park and Newport Grand are taking in substantially less money than they did the year before.

“This could have dramatic consequence for the state, which is already struggling with a $ 105.1-million shortfall and a potential $ 254-million deficit next year …”

After House Finance Committee Chairman Steven M. Costantino expressed his concern that the drop in gambling revenue will compound the state’s budget problems, he cited the reduction of disposable income, the crisis in the housing market and rising energy costs as possible causes for the drop in patronage at the gambling venues.

Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano acknowledged that legislators are “always looking for new revenue by way of economic development … but I don’t think it’s on anybody’s agenda to expand gambling in Rhode Island. The less we rely on it, the better it is for us”, he said.

We’d like to make a suggestion. There’s a way to kill three or four birds with one stone, and no one would get hurt. In fact, everyone would benefit and many would even prosper. We’ll say it again: BUILD THE CONTAINER TERMINAL WE’VE BEEN DESCRIBING!!

• Revenues from such a facility would greatly exceed those threatened annual budget shortfalls.

• Thousands of employment opportunities would be created.

• More employment opportunities and higher wages would greatly improve the bottom lines of the state’s two slot parlors.

[And something else could happen. A flush citizenry, with an invigorated appetite, might even approve of that aforementioned rejected casino at the next general election.]