CREATING A SPECIAL HOUSE COMMISSION TO STUDY GAMING
Introduced By: Representatives Fox, Sherlock, Carter, Naughton, and George
Date Introduced: March 13, 2002
WHEREAS, There have been various proposals in support of gaming submitted to the house finance committee and the general assembly over the past several years, including full commercial casino gaming; and
WHEREAS, Opponents of gaming have, among other things, suggested that: (1) an increase in the forms of gaming will not attract "new" dollars, but will cause a shift in spending patterns which will ultimately hurt existing businesses; (2) there are significant social costs created by legalized gaming, including problems with pathological and underage gambling and increased bankruptcies, which outweigh any benefits; (3) legalized gaming leads to increased crime; and (4) revenues generated from legalized gaming should not be relied upon as a component of Rhode Island's fiscal management; and
WHEREAS, Proponents of additional gaming have, among other things, suggested that: (1) the legalization of commercial gaming would lead to substantial capital investment in Rhode Island, good paying jobs, substantial tax revenues and economic development; (2) additional gaming venues are necessary in response to competition from gaming in other states and the demand for such entertainment facilities within Rhode Island; (3) Rhode Island has and will continue to lose millions in revenue each year to such other states unless additional gaming is authorized; and (4) commercial gaming would enhance the tourism and hospitality industry in Rhode Island by attracting out-of-state tourists to Rhode Island for gaming and other forms of entertainment; and
WHEREAS, In order for the house of representatives to fully examine and adequately address the full range of issues that have arisen regarding gaming in Rhode Island, it is essential that the house finance committee conduct an in-depth study; and
WHEREAS, The establishment of a house finance committee study commission is an appropriate mechanism for the members of the house of representatives to become informed regarding the problems, challenges and opportunities associated with gaming in Rhode Island; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That a special house commission be and the same is hereby created consisting of seven (7) members of the house finance committee: four (4) members shall be the chairpersons of the subcommittees of the house finance committees on health and human services, general government, public safety, and education; one (1) of whom shall be the deputy chairperson of the house finance committee; one (1) of whom shall be the chairperson of the house finance committee; and one (1) of whom shall be a minority political member of the house finance committee to be appointed by the chairperson of the finance committee.
The chairperson of the house finance committee shall appoint one (1) of the foregoing seven (7) members as the chairperson of the house study commission, and the chairperson of the house finance committee shall serve as co-chairperson of the house study commission.
The purpose of said commission shall be to conduct a comprehensive study on the desirability of further gaming in Rhode Island, including full commercial casino gaming. The commission shall investigate, take testimony and gather evidence concerning the positive and negative aspects of further gaming. The commission shall consider potential locations of further gaming facilities, the impact of gaming on a host community and surrounding communities, revenue sharing arrangements, casino partnership arrangements, and all other issues related to further gaming in Rhode Island. The committee shall conduct at least one (1) hearing in each county, with adequate public notice, in order that all Rhode Islanders may be permitted to participate in the study.
Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the members of the commission shall meet at the call of the chairperson of the house finance committee. Vacancies in said commission shall be filled by the chairperson of the house finance committee.
The membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services.
The commission may contract with individuals, colleges, universities, professional organizations or any other entities, or professionals with expertise which will assist the commission in its work.
All departments and agencies of the state shall furnish such advice and information, documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution.
The chairperson of the house finance committee is hereby authorized and directed to provide suitable quarters for said commission; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the house of representatives on or before April 1, 2003 and said commission shall expire on June 1, 2003.
In its report, the commission should set forth findings and/or make recommendations regarding, but not limited to, the following:
(a) What are the economic and social impacts, positive and negative, of authorizing additional gaming in the state;
(b) Whether the authorization of one (1) or more gaming facilities is desirable and beneficial to the state and, if so, what structure would maximize benefits to the state;
(c) Whether the establishment of one (1) or more commercial casinos in the state would cause significant social harm or any substantial economic harm to the state from lost state lottery income or other gaming revenue;
(d) Whether the economic benefits from the establishment of one (1) or more commercial casinos in the state would outweigh any potential social or economic harm which may result;
(e) If the establishment of new gaming facilities is determined to be in the state's best interest, whether such gaming facilities should be privately owned and operated, Indian owned and operated, or a combination of any of the foregoing;
(f) If the establishment of new gaming facilities in the state is determined to be in the state's best interest, whether such gaming facilities should include VLT-machine-only gaming, coin drop slot-machine and VLT-machine-only gaming, full casino gaming, modified casino gaming, or any other form of gaming;
(g) If the establishment of new gaming facilities in the state is determined to be in the state's best interest, whether existing gaming facilities should be allowed the same types of gaming as would be present in the new gaming facilities;
(h) If the establishment of new gaming facilities in the state is determined to be in the state's best interest, whether the state should mandate a competitive bidding process for any gaming facility in which the state is involved;
(i) If additional legalized gaming is authorized, what additional regulatory and administrative responsibilities and duties would be required and what regulatory structure would be most appropriate;
(j) If additional legalized gaming is authorized, what is the potential share for the state in the resulting new gaming revenue;
(k) Whether the house study commission should recommend that a statewide referenda be put on the next ballot to allow the voters to determine whether gaming should be expanded in Rhode Island, and what question or questions should the voters be asked;
(l) What role should a host community play with any new gaming facility, including the degree of authority it should have over casino operations and the revenues to be obtained therefrom; and
(m) Whether any existing statutes regarding gaming and/or state lotteries should be introduced or amended.