It’s shiny, new and killing Rhode Island business: That is, of course, the new Encore casino in Boston.
Opened on June 23, the casino has had no trouble driving business and making money, to the tune of $16 million in its first week. By the end of its first month, Encore had already made $48.6 million, and the state of Massachusetts expects as much as $300 million in new taxes from the property when this fiscal year ends.
And then there’s Twin River here in the Ocean State.
Business has dipped for the Rhode Island casino — along with other casinos in nearby states — and executives are struggling to keep up. While Encore is seen as opulent and elite, Twin River… isn’t. I mean, just compare the websites of the two; it’s night and day.
But business is slipping and is close to costing jobs at Twin River. So what can the casino and the state of Rhode Island do to get that business back?
There’s some thought that this is just a temporary thing.
In just a year, Encore may be less shiny and the appeal of the brand-new facility could wear off. Executives at Twin River contend that this is the case. Once people lose interest in Encore, they’ll be back in Rhode Island at Twin River in no time.
At least, that’s the hope. But what if that doesn’t happen? There’s a fair chance that, unless something changes, business will never return to Rhode Island. What can Twin River do to keep the money in the state?
“We’re not standing still,” Craig Sculos, the VP and General Manager of Twin River, told Gene Valicenti of WPRO. The casino has made investments in improved facilities and better incentives, Sculos said.
But what about the alcohol?
In Massachusetts, Encore can provide free drinks to their customers; in Rhode Island, that’s against the law. It’s something that Twin River has had internal discussions about. Should Rhode Island change the law?
It’s clear that the state should.
Twin River turned a profit of $71 million in 2018, and a portion of what they make goes to the Rhode Island government. Beyond that, as the biggest casino in the state, Twin River employs hundreds of workers. The economic impact of the casino on the state is real, and Rhode Island can’t afford to miss out on that powerhouse.
If allowing the distribution of alcohol for free is part of the solution — which it appears to be — than there should be nothing stopping the RI government from changing the law.
That’s not to say that allowing Twin River to provide free alcohol is a silver bullet for the casino. More still has to be done. “They need to freshen up the place in order to be able to complete,” Governor Raimondo said in an interview on WPRO.
But part of the solution should be providing alcohol for free.
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