Rumors permeated among Tiverton’s politically active residents, last night, that some big news would be coming today. I joked to my friends that the town planned to secede to Massachusetts and move the planned Fall River casino to Tiverton.
As it turned out, that joke was a bit like splitting the zeros on a roulette table.
News is out — see here and here, for examples — that Twin River Management Group has plans to move its Newport Grand facility to Tiverton, along Stafford Rd. directly on the other side of Rt. 24 from an area of Fall River, Massachusetts, that is heavily developed with retail businesses.
The location would be exactly diagonal across the cloverleaf exit ramps from the New Harbor Mall, which Mayor Will Flanagan of Fall River confirmed as the proposed site for a Massachusetts casino one year ago. That project, however, appears to have hit some snags, which may entail a new location or no Fall River casino at all.
From the point of view of Tiverton residents, the “yes” or “no” question of a casino on the town’s border would only be the beginning, with many details to be worked out. State officials, in Rhode Island, are desperate to find ways to shore up the government’s revenue from gambling. That should put Tiverton officials in a strong position to negotiate with Twin River and the state itself.
Casinos have tended to face substantial local opposition. Indeed, Twin River is only looking to Tiverton after Newport voters rejected expansion of the facility, there.
For at least one side of local political disputes — the taxpayer advocates — support may hinge on whether the deal provides for substantial, direct, and immediate relief to lower the town’s high tax burden on residents.