Rev. Eugene J. McKenna, president of the group, will likely read from a letter attached to the council's docket that reminds the council that voters already rejected a casino referendum in 2012 and "it's unfair to ignore that vote and ask the electorate to vote once again."
The casino proposal, backed by former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino and a group of other investors with familiar names to Newporters, requires a public OK through a referendum.
Statewide voters in 2012 did reject table games at Newport Grand, but approved them for Twin River in Lincoln.
But in Newport, "the only thing that Newporters ever voted in favor of in their fair city was the introduction of gambling on jai lai games," McKenna wrote. "It's the Rhode Island General Assembly that allowed the sport of jai lai to cease and the other forms of gambling to happen at Newport Grand such as slots."
Other points McKenna will raise include:
- The casino could be destructive for tourism and the development of an "innovation hub" which has received broad local and state support
- Casino revenue is already in the decline.
- Casinos with all-inclusive amenities tend to absorb tourism dollars since they tend to stay on the premises
- Casino gambling causes social issues like suicide, bankruptcies, problem marriages, embezzlement and fraud.
- Casino gambling doesn't complement anything Newport is promoting to improve itself.
Paolino and the investors reached a deal to buy the Newport Grand last week.
Paolino and Peter de Savary — the same de Savary who just sold Merrillton Mansion in Newport for $8.76 million — along with Paul Roiff, released sketches from Northeast Collaborative Architects that depict a radically different looking structure than the existing Newport Grand, which could be mistaken for a chain furniture store if not for the garish "SLOTS" adorning the front facade.
In an interview, Paolino said he envisions a jewel of a structure greeting tourists and visitors to Newport after they come off the bridge.
"We have a concern not just as investors, but as neighbors," Paolino said in a telephone interview. "The last thing we want to see is Donald Trump or some Las Vegas group coming in here with neon signs and changing the character of the city. Our interest is not to move it or make it into a Las Vegas style casino, but more of a boutique look," he said. "It would look a lot nicer as a Monte Carlo-style casino and not a bunch of neon signs."
The City Council meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Newport City Hall.