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Judge Smith Allows Casino Referendum on November Ballot

A constitutional amendment is on for the November ballot election. Voters of Rhode Island can now vote allowing the Narragansett Indian Tribe and Harrah’s Entertainment to operate a casino. This is the decision given by U.S. District Judge William Smith in Rhode Island Tuesday, August 8, 2006.

Despite the objections of the rival casino developer of Narragansett, Judge Smith still gave a go signal for the proposed West Warwick casino. The two rival casinos, Ajax Gaming Ventures LLC and Johnston, filed a lawsuit last month to object with the casino proposed by Narragansett and Harrah’s calling the amendment unconstitutional because they say it awards lucrative gaming rights on the basis of race.

Lauren Jones, attorney for Harrah’s said, “They could appeal this I would suppose, but other than that, it seems to it’s now forward to the election.”

Smith said in a nine-page ruling, that this casino amendment raises “serious” constitutional questions and Smith added that Ajax and Johnston could likely win the case however. The decision seemed a mixed victory for Harrah’s and Narragansetts.

Smith wrote, “While this Court clearly has the power, prudence requires enormous discretion in its exercise.”

The state’s Supreme Court has constitutional mandates that authorities control all casinos and lotteries.

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