GAMING group Stanley Leisure pledged to spend more than £100m over the next five years on revamping its casinos. - Tuesday 12th of July 2005

Rhode Island has flashed a green light to a major gambling expansion expected to bring millions more in additional cross-border spending from Massachusetts bettors.

Legislation recently passed by Rhode Island lawmakers will allow the Lincoln Park dog track and a Newport gambling center to add 2,500 new slot machines.

The move appears to be partly defensive.

In approving the slot machine expansion, Rhode Island lawmakers cited the need to protect a key source of revenue if Massachusetts were to join the gambling game.

Along with adding slots, the two Ocean State gambling venues are also laying plans for roughly $150 million in upgrades that will expand and renovate both facilities.

``That is quite a significant expansion, said Clyde Barrow, a University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth public policy professor and gambling expert.

``They are increasing the number of slots by a third.

Meanwhile, shareholders of Lincoln Parks British parent company, Wembley Plc, have agreed to sell the dog track to BLB Investors - a group that includes Mohegan Sun founder and international gambling tycoon Sol Kerzner.

Rhode Islands move to add slots is expected to provide political ammunition to Beacon Hill supporters of expanded gambling, who are preparing for a fall push on the issue.

Massachusetts finds itself losing a steadily growing stream of dollars to states with slot machines and casinos, warned state Sen. Michael Morrissey (D-Quincy).

While Rhode Island and Connecticut, with its two giant Indian casinos, are veteran players, other states, including Maine and New York, are also now joining the gambling gold rush, he said.

Overall, Lincoln Park will add 1,750 slot machines to the roughly 3,000 it has now, while Newport puts in an additional 800 slots.

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