Rhode Island is set to open its first-ever licensed poker room.
John Taylor, chairman of the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, announced Tuesday that the property would be adding 28 new table games, including 16 poker tables, which would comprise its new poker room.
It’s currently scheduled to open in August in the casino’s no smoking section on the second floor.
Twin River was granted the right to expand its casino floor by introducing table games in 2012, following a public referendum.
Voters were asked to decide on casino expansion for two venues, the Newport Grand in Newport, Aquidnek Island, as well Twin River, in the northeast of the state.
Lincoln residents overwhelmingly approved the measure, while Newport residents voted against table games by an eight percent margin.
Twin River, which had previously been permitted to host slot machines only, quickly introduced 65 table games to its collection of 4,500 slots.
Ever since the referendum there has been a clamor for a poker room among Rhode Island’s poker players, with Facebook group Poker Room for Twin River spearheading the campaign.
“An important part of our business philosophy has been to listen to what our customers want, and the addition of a poker room is one of most often heard requests, Taylor said. “We’re thrilled to increase the number of table games we currently offer, which also means we will expand our workforce once again.”
Poker players in Rhode Island are the beneficiaries of an escalating casino race in New England.
Twin Rivers expansion is largely a reaction to the newly opened Plainridge Park Casino, across the northern border in Massachusetts and just 18 miles from Lincoln.
Plainridge Park doesn’t currently offer table games, but it announced this week that it had raked in $6.1 million in gambling revenue in its first week of operation, earning almost twice as much per slot machine as Twin River.
The establishment of two much bigger casinos in Massachusetts, an MGM Resorts property to be built in Springfield and a Wynn Resorts property in Everett, just 50 miles from Lincoln, will further tighten the screws on Twin River.
Meanwhile, in response to casino expansion in Massachusetts, lawmakers in Connecticut are also looking to pave the way for a new tribal casino in the north of the state along the Massachusetts border.
Taylor said the goal of Twin River is to continually be more robust than Plainridge Park. “That’s what drives our laser-like focus on customer service, our plans for a new amenity hotel on property, and now, the expanded non-smoking floor offerings,” Taylor said. “We will continue to explore ways to remain competitive in this challenging regional market.”