Don’t Count on Projected Twin River Revenue Gain for Long

State budget forecasters are seeing enhanced revenue coming in and are therefore citing a lower budget deficit for the fiscal year ahead, commencing in July 2012. This is good news indeed and will lower our structural deficit a bit and allow some increase in state departmental funding. Stronger revenue from the Twin River slots facility has them projecting the state’s gaming take to increase in fiscal 2012-2013 – growing by 2.6 percent or almost $10 million.

They shouldn’t count on that revenue gain lasting too long, however, because they appeared to ignore the fact that Massachusetts, which legalized gaming in the Bay State on the day before Thanksgiving, will have an operational racino in place by early 2012. If that facility gets located in Plainridge, which is a leading contender for the single racino to be authorized, those projected Twin River revenue gains will disappear faster than a $20 bill slipped into one of the facility’s one-armed bandits.

RI’s revenue from gaming is about to reach its historical high – once a MA racino opens, especially one by the RI border, revenues will begin to fall. State budget experts and policymakers need to begin planning for that eventuality.