A Grand Idea!

The Pro-Jo and other outlets report Joe Paolino’s put together a team of investors and already have a purchase and sales agreement whipped up to buy the Newport Grand slots parlor from long time owner Diane Hurley and her partners.

There’s just one big caveat... Paolino’s group won’t follow through unless table games are allowed. Voters both statewide and in Newport would have to OK table games. That failed in 2012 when Newport Grand won statewide support but fell just about 700 votes short of approval in the city by the sea. That same year Twin River got the OK from state and Lincoln voters and have reaped some serious fruit from rolling the bones.

In the meantime, Newport Grand’s revenue has dropped. In fact, in fiscal year 2005 Newport Grand’s income was $79.4 million. In 2013 it was $48.1 million. The number of jobs dwindled too from 225 to 175 employees. You don’t need to be Nostradamus to predict where this is going without hearing someone yell “hit me.”

Paolino thinks folks in Newport took a long, hard look at what has sadly become a glorified Quonset Hut of a building that once housed the trendy fronton when Newport Jai Alai was all the rage and thought about such an unsightly extended structure taking over Newport like Godzilla did Tokyo. To calm their nerves, Paolino and his investors are seeking a referendum tying the casino to its current location and simply surrounding it with a “Beaux Arts” style addition that would satisfy even the snootiest sort.

Paolino’s vision is a good one. Newport residents should embrace it….the state already did in 2012. Paolino says without table games Newport Grad will fold the tent in 3 years. I wouldn’t give it that long once the Massachusetts casinos start rolling the dice. Paolino’s idea has merit…and gambling’s our third highest source of revenue. Wise up. A savior doesn’t show up at our doorstep every day.


 SKETCH IMAGE: Northeast Collaborative Architects