Newport City Council takes up table games resolution

The Newport City Council will vote Wednesday night on a resolution to ask the General Assembly to place a table games referendum on the November ballot as part of a proposed expansion at Newport Grand.

"It's the first step in Newport up until the point that the voters will actually vote on it, if it gets passed (Wednesday) night," Mayor Harry Winthrop said.

Winthrop said that it's important to let the citizens make decisions of this magnitude, but he certainly supports an economic boost to the local community.

"One of the tenets of our strategic plan is economic development, and economic development comes in many different forms and this is a form," Winthrop said.

Winthrop said revenue and employment levels have fallen at Newport Grand since 2010. Residents agree that an economic boost is needed.

"I think the fact that if they do expand and they end up bringing those tables I think it will bring more jobs, of course, and more revenue for the town of Newport, and I think that's a win-win situation," said Jose Troncoso.

Despite the beauty that Newport has to offer with waterfront property and everything that comes with it, the mayor and residents said they would like Newport Grand to stay where it is if it expands.

"I would definitely rather it stay in that building, and I think I would be more for it if stayed in that building and if we were assured that it would be in that building," said Ron Pilotte of Newport.

Those questions will be answered by former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino Jr. and his team of developers, who have an agreement to buy Newport Grand if table games are approved.

If the resolution passes, and the General Assembly approves a referendum, the next step in the process is educating the public on the pros and cons of expansion and letting the public vote.

"We're not endorsing gambling. That's going to be up to the developer to convince the residents of Newport that it's the right thing for Newport, that it's the right fit and that there will be a benefit. All we're going to do is give them the opportunity to make that decision," Winthrop said.

Newport voters rejected table games at Newport Grand in a 2012 referendum.