To the Editor,
On September 13, Alliance For A Livable Newport, in keeping with its mission of providing unbiased information on issues of importance to Newport residents, property owners and businesses, sponsored a forum on the Casino Table Games question that will appear on the November election ballot. Our intent was to present a level playing field of information with a speaker in favor of allowing Newport Grand to add table gambling games to their present slot machine gambling, a speaker against the proposal and a third speaker to present an unbiased review of the economic issues.
Two of our three goals were met with Diane Hurley ably presenting the case in favor of expanded gambling and Father Eugene McKenna ably presenting arguments against the expansion. Unfortunately, the third speaker, URI Professor Edward Mazze, presented only the pro-gambling side of the economic picture. That was not our intent and we apologize to our audience, those in the CCRI auditorium and those viewing subsequently on Public Access TV and on ALN’s website, and especially to Father McKenna for putting him at a disadvantage on the forum panel.
On the plus side, the majority of members of the live audience demonstrated through their questions and comments during the Q&A session following the panel’s prepared remarks that they were opposed to any expansion of gambling in Newport. That restored some balance to the evening.
We want to assure ALN’s followers that we will make every effort to maintain a level playing field for critical and controversial issues at future ALN forums.
President, Alliance for a Livable Newport
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.