Table games arrive at R.I.'s Twin River casino

Tom Covill, right, and Greg Fox set up a Big 6 Money Wheel as the table games are installed on the main floor of Twin River in Lincoln, R.I. Sixty-five table games were delivered and set up Wednesday, with a goal of full casino play beginning in July.

Twin River, the Lincoln, R.I., slots parlor that's morphing into a full-fledged casino, took delivery Wednesday of a shipment of table games it plans to have up and running by the end of next month.

Three trucks bearing tables, dice, chips, cards and other equipment arrived overnight, and three more were expected today, John Taylor, Twin River's chairman, said in a phone interview.

"It's an exciting day. There's a lot of energy here," he said.

A one-time greyhound track that now offers simulcast racing in addition to slots-like video display terminals, Twin River has been preparing to introduce table games since last November when voters approved the move in local and statewide referendums.

Management maintained that table games were critical to the facility's survival.

Massachusetts has authorized three new resort casinos and a slots parlor, at least one of which could be located within 20 miles of the Rhode Island border. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has proposed an Indian casino in Taunton, and racetrack facilities in Plainville and Raynham are among the contenders for the slots parlor license.

"We've always said tables are a tool we need to have in our toolbox, but they're not our only tool," Taylor said.

Twin River, which emerged from bankruptcy under new ownership in 2010, has held its own the last couple of years in a market that includes two of the world's largest gaming complexes, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun.

"We've gotten pretty competitive, if you look at our market share," Taylor said. "Unlike the big destination casinos that employ thousands of people, we will have 1,400 to 1,500 employees who can provide a more personal experience. ... We've got a plan and we're executing it."

About 200 of Twin River's 4,750 VDTs are being removed to accommodate 66 table games, which include blackjack, craps, mini baccarat, roulette, a Big Six wheel and such poker-style card games as Let It Ride. No poker room is planned.

"We feel the loss of those couple of hundred machines is not going to impact us," Taylor said.

Typically, he said, when a slots-only facility adds table games, it experiences an increase in slots revenue because of a phenomenon known as "companion play."

"Now Twin River becomes an option" for a couple where the husband plays table games and the wife plays slots, Taylor said.

Twin River has hired about 600 full- and part-time employees in connection with the table-games conversion, most of them dealers. Jobs in surveillance, security and accounting had to be filled as well.

While Twin River's new "dealers' school" has graduated its first class, Taylor said many of the facility's new hires have dealt elsewhere.

"For the most part, our Day One team will have a fair amount of experience," he said.


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