Harrah's Wants to Restart Rhode Island Talks - Thursday 12th of May 2005

Harrah's Entertainment, the Las Vegas developer hoping to build a casino in this town, has asked to restart negotiations on a host agreement -- talks that halted nearly 10 months ago.

"Town Council President Jeanne-Marie DiMasi said Harrah's recently contacted her asking to renew discussion on the wide-ranging host agreement, which would govern company payments to the town, among other critical issues.

"…The town has made almost no progress in studying the casino's potential impact in the intervening months, which one councilman blamed on Harrah's lack of cooperation and financing.

"…Recently, however, Harrah's has shown renewed optimism in the project. The company called DiMasi last week, and is preparing a mailing for West Warwick residents that promotes the joint venture with the Narragansett Indian tribe; recently, the tribe's chief sachem, Matthew Thomas, reached out to residents with an automated phone call.

"…The town has spent $158,000 of Harrah's money on legal advice, two economic-impact studies, and a partial zoning analysis. Officials also concluded an analysis of traffic patterns on East Greenwich Avenue, near the proposed casino site.

"…Harrah's proposal -- a 'destination resort' offering restaurants, a spa, shops and a 500-room hotel -- does not call for prolonged scrutiny, DiMasi said…"

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