NEWPORT — Both sides of the gambling debate aired their views Thursday night at a forum at the Community College of Rhode Island campus featuring the CEO of the Newport Grand slot parlor, a priest opposed to gambling, and a business professor.
The forum, sponsored by the Alliance for a Livable Newport, a local civic group, comes as voters will decide in November whether to allow Rhode Island’s two slot parlors — Newport Grand and Twin River — to become full-scale casinos.
The event brought out some 60 people, a number of whom were residents opposed to expanding gambling at Newport Grand.
Liz Mathinos was among those residents who said Newport should focus on the things that make it unique — namely, its historical heritage. She likened the casino question to the risky financial decisions that ultimately drove the nation’s most recent economic collapse.
“What is wrong with us? We gambled this country into a depression,” Mathinos said. “We should have learned a lesson from the past five years…. To rely on gambling is stupid.”
Others said full-scale gambling would bring new jobs to the state.