Twin River Casino opens table games to the public

Twin River Casino opens table games to the public

LINCOLN - Two years of planning, one political campaign, 600 new jobs and $7 million later, Twin River Casino table games are officially open for business.

The 65 games went live to the public on Wednesday, June 19, almost two weeks earlier than expected, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by dignitaries from Lincoln, the casino and the state, including Gov. Lincoln Chafee, House Speaker Gordon Fox, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond and Gilbane Building Company President William Gilbane Jr.

There was also an opening day blackjack tournament in which select community leaders played to divide six $20,000 jackpots among their chosen charities.

Participants included state Sen. Ryan Pearson, who played for the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln, and Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce President John Gregory, who played for United Way, with the earnings to be dispersed among their Blackstone Valley programming.

Gregory was part of the table game soft opening on Tuesday. Starting June 14, the casino opened gaming to invited guests as a way to assess performance and vet out any potential problems.

Chairman John Taylor told The Breeze, "We're so excited that this day has finally come."

Taylor, who said discussions for table games started in February 2011, said the cooperation between all stakeholders has been "amazing to deal with."

"Most of our employees have really thrown themselves into doing this right," Taylor said. "I can't say enough about the cooperation of all those involved."

The 65 table games by the Blackstone Cigar Bar include 38 blackjack tables, six roulette wheels, six baccarat tables, four craps tables and several three-card poker tables. Taylor has said they will occupy 19,000 square feet of the 160,000-square-foot gaming floor.

Gregory, who played craps with Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Paul Ouellette, Moe Rondeau of Travel Advisors International and Brian Hunter of Hunter Insurance, said as a member of the advisory board, he has been a part of the table games conversation since it started two years ago.

So it is exciting, he said, to see the plan come to fruition. He said he is particularly looking forward to playing blackjack.

Kevin Brown, director of table games, said the employees enjoy the engaging games as much as the players.

"The best part about it is interacting with the customer," Brown said.

Spokeswoman Patti Doyle said Tuesday, "It's been a whirlwind, but it's been really good."

She added that the casino staff had been proceeding as scheduled through last-minute legislation regarding cheating that reportedly threatened the opening date of the games.

The 58-page bill, which passed Tuesday night, was introduced on June 5. It defines cheating and gambling fraud, as well as the penalties, which can be up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

A state police unit set up in the casino handles cheating, Almond said, while the Lincoln Police Department handles other matters, including larceny of a purse or wallet, for example.

Prior to the grand opening, Almond told The Breeze he wanted to congratulate Twin River "on achieving a state-of-the-art expansion."

Calling them an "outstanding corporate citizen and neighbor," Almond said the casino has played a role in protecting the financial interest of the town by providing millions of dollars of revenue for Lincoln's capital investments to municipal and school facilities.