Tribal Chief Frustrated Over Casino Debate - Sunday 25th of June 2006

CHARLESTOWN, Rhode Island – As reported by the Chariho Times: " - The road to building a casino in Rhode Island has been long, winding through thick political debate. This month has marked a decidedly optimistic point for the Narragansett Indian Tribe, when the Rhode Island General Assembly approved a bill which would put the question to the voting public on the November ballot. That question will read: 'Should there be a casino, operated by an affiliate of Harrah's Entertainment in association with the Narragansett Indian Tribe, in the town of West Warwick?'

"After years of obstacles and pitfalls, the Narragansetts are going to be able to bring the question back to the voters and they're happy for the chance. "We're just asking for the people's right to choose," says Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas, who has been at the forefront of these debates.

"Thomas thinks that getting the vote on the November ballot has been a long time coming and his frustration over Governor Carcieri's 'my way or the highway' demeanor strikes him as nothing less than undemocratic.

"…According to Thomas, the state will certainly get the lion's share of the profits from the casino. The deal itself totals $560 million, and of that the state will pull in $144 million.

"…Thomas says that the fact that the proposed casino will not be built on tribe land also means that the state benefits far more.

"…Another point that Thomas stresses is that this will not be a 'golden ticket' for the Narragansetts. It will certainly bring money into the tribe but he says "at the end of the day that money will be used for our senior facilities, education programs, jobs, and infrastructure."

"…Overall, Thomas seems simply content with the current situation. He is still, however, emphatic in his message: 'We play by the rules and we want our day at the ballot.'

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