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Tribe sues over slot parlor vote

October 24, 2011

Photo by Charles Underbaggage

Members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe celebrated during their annual pow wow in August. The tribe has recently been at the center of major local a federal issues, including a lawsuit against the state and a senate committee hearing related to a bill that could be introduced to congress.

The Narragansett Indian Tribe has taken a legal course of action as a result of its displeasure with the R.I. General Assembly’s approving of a referendum question for the November 2012 ballot that would ask voters whether to allow the Twin River slot parlor in Lincoln to have blackjack and other traditional table games.

If Twin River is allowed table games, currently illegal in Rhode Island, it would become the state’s first full scale casino.

The tribe has previously been blocked of having a similar referendum question put on the state ballot that would allow them to open a casino in Rhode island. It was allowed a question on the 2006 ballot, but that question was required to be posed in a manner that asked voters if the state constitution should be amended for this purpose.

On Wednesday, Sept. 28, the tribe filed a lawsuit in R.I. Superior Court claiming that the approval of the legislation for the Twin River question is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit is based on a piece of the Rhode Island Constitution (Article 6, Section 15), that reads: All lotteries shall be prohibited in the State except lotteries operated by the State.

The complaint claims that, “Twin River is a privately owned venue. Nowhere in the Law is there provided a substantive definition of ‘state operation,’ especially regarding table games to be conducted at Twin River.”

“Pursuant to the Law, the voters of the State of Rhode Island are being asked to vote on a constitutional question regarding the expansion of gaming without any definition of what state operation of this expansion will consist of, what specific table games are going to be operated and what entity or personnel are going to operate them.”

“The statute is unconstitutional because the State must have the power to make decisions about all aspects of the functioning of any state casino and this statute either provides no standard at all or allows a private entity unconstitutional control over certain aspects of the operation of the casino,” the complaint continues.

For more information, pick up a copy of The Chariho Times.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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