The biggest race in Rhode Island isn’t being fought between a Democrat and a Republican. Instead, this year’s ballot pits the state of Rhode Island against Massachusetts in a casino gambling arms race.
Rhode Island voters decide Tuesday whether to allow the state’s two slot machine parlors to install table games. Whether the state’s gambling parlors win or lose, the ballot question won’t end the arms race. As states pile into the ultra-competitive casino gambling market, they’re finding that the only way to deliver on the promise of huge piles of money and easy jobs is in amping up their gambling operations and raiding someone else’s casino business — an act that invites reprisals in the form of yet more expanded gambling. Massachusetts lawmakers didn’t end the gambling debate when they authorized the construction of three casinos last year; they put down a marker that they’re going to have defend, and revisit, ad nauseum.