|Naysayers, nimbys & skeptics
- If we could make money with them we would be a rich state. We
already have gambling and its all around us weather you like it, think
it’s bad for our society, or bad for our state. Any Rhode
Islander who wants to gamble can drive a mere 20 minutes to find a
state that will gladly take their money - Connecticut. All you
need to do is drive through the parking lots of Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun
and you will see the thousands of cars from RI.
Why now? In the past we as a state chose not to support the
expansion of gambling. However, it has spread and will spread
even further as Massachusetts moves forward to build its three
casinos. The introduction of casinos in Massachusetts will
negatively impact Twin River and Newport Grand, which in turn will cost
the state of RI millions in revenues which translates into a reduction
cities and towns receive to support their schools, maintain their
infrastructures, and provide other fundamental services.
Ultimately gambling is a vice, a vice that a large segment of the
population enjoys. It is also ubiquitous. We as a state
happily support the lottery, keno, Powerball, and our slot parlors and
the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue they provide our
state each year. Therefore, let’s move past the debate
about whether gambling is good or bad and focus instead on the relevant
and legitimate question of how we can protect our assets, grow our
economy, and ultimately move our state forward.
Why Quonset? A basic tenet of business is that the provider of a
superior product will experience more success than its competitors. As
it pertains to the casino issue, it is in our best interests to exploit
the advantages that we have over our competitors in Connecticut and
Massachusetts – the deepwater port at Quonset, the abundance of
buildable land and infrastructure currently in place. Any state
can build a big, beautiful resort casino that is land locked.
That is why Twin River and Newport Grand are not viable choices to
compete with Connecticut and Massachusetts. Quonset is
unique. It has 3 marinas, 2 beaches, an airport, 2 docks large
enough to service cruise ships, access by way of route 403, an 18 hole
golf course, and a third rail which could be used for a commuter train,
and the surrounding undeveloped land that could be used for a bike path
and nature walk.
Those who oppose my proposal have claimed that it would disrupt
existing businesses at Quonset. They obviously have not taken the
time to consider this proposal and do not understand what it
entails. My proposal would situate the casino such that it
would be removed from the major businesses currently in operation at
Quonset, such as General Dynamics, Senesco and Toray Plastics.
The casino would be located on the Davisville side, with only 1
business being affected. This tenant, an automobile importer who
leases 125 acres from the state, could be accommodated so as to protect
that operation. The casino development would only interfere with
43 of the 125 acres leased for the auto import operation, and Quonset
is large enough to offer him an alternative site of equal size so that
it could continue in operation.
The naysayers and nimby sentiment have stifled development of this
unique and invaluable resource ever since the state acquired it.
This casino development would not threaten, displace, or eliminate any
of the business and jobs currently at the business park. To the
contrary, it would add another 20,000 jobs and contribute hundreds of
million of dollars in tax revenue to the state and about 20 million
dollars to the town. If you look at some of the online surveys,
60% - 70% of people favor a Resort Casino at Quonset.
So what are the naysayers and nimbys offering as an alternative?
They generally advocate for the creation of business and manufacturing
jobs. I have supported that goal completely and wholeheartedly
for many years. Unfortunately, this will require us as a state to
lower corporate, personal and estate taxes, eliminate some of the
hundreds of anti-business laws and regulations currently in place, and
ultimately change the perception that Rhode Island is a difficult place
to conduct and grow business. I, and many others, have been
trying to accomplish these goals for years, and unfortunately, we have
been met with resistance from those who desire to preserve the status
quo. Simply put, we need to protect our assets, create jobs, and
grow our economy. This will require us to take advantage of all
of our resources, and Quonset is the most unique resource we
have. Therefore, we must do whatever we can to capitalize on this
advantage over our neighbors in Connecticut and Massachusetts and
develop it before it is too late. The time to act is now!
We cannot continue to wait and see what happens. We cannot be
content to sit back and just respond to those around us, we must take
the initiative and do what is best for the state.
I have never been a big supporter of gambling. However, it is present
in varying degrees in Rhode Island, Connecticut and
Massachusetts. This industry is growing and like it or not, we
depend on it. Ultimately, we have a choice. We can choose
to do nothing and allow Connecticut and Massachusetts to grow and watch
our economy suffer or we can be bold and maximize Quonset by building a
world-class resort casino that will benefit our state for
decades. The choice is ours, but we have to act now.
(Representative Trillo is the Republican State Representative from District 24, Warwick, and is the House Minority Whip)