Rhode Island Voters to Decide Casino Issue - Monday 5th of June 2006

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island – As reported by the Newport Daily: "Barring a successful legal challenge, casino proponents will be spinning the electoral roulette wheel this November to see if voters will approve an amendment to the constitution allowing a privately run casino in the state.

"The Senate approved the constitutional referendum, 23-13. Unlike all other legislation, the governor does not have veto power over constitutional questions, so the issue will head to the ballot unless it is challenged in court.

"The vote came after 90 minutes of debate and after supporters narrowly defeated a proposed amendment to open the casino license to competitive bidding. As worded, the resolution would, if approved, put into the constitution a provision granting one casino license to 'the Narragansett Indian tribe and its chosen partner.' The tribe has a partnership with Harrah's Entertainment to run the casino. The referendum also stipulates that all state revenue from the casino be dedicated to property tax relief.

"Tribe Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas was surprisingly subdued following the vote. Addressing reporters, Thomas said he was pleased with the Senate vote.

"…Rep. Timothy A. Williamson, D-West Warwick, the bill's sponsor, said he was 'happy' that the issue appeared to be heading for the ballot, but said he expected some group would mount a legal challenge.

"…Gov. Donald L. Carcieri quickly issued a statement blasting the vote and said his legal team would be reviewing the legislation to determine if a court challenge is justified…"

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