U.S. Markets open in 4 hrs 29 mins

RI's Twin River Casino begins table games

LINCOLN, R.I. (AP) -- Las Vegas-style betting games like blackjack and craps are now underway at Rhode Island's Twin River Casino after state leaders held a ribbon cutting for expanded gambling Wednesday.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, House Speaker Gordon Fox and other top lawmakers participated in the opening ceremonies at the facility in Lincoln. Chafee, a Democrat, said expanded gambling creates "good paying jobs" for a state that has struggled with high unemployment.

"Today is a meaningful step forward in Rhode Island's continuing economic recovery," Chafee said.

Twin River hired 400 new workers, completed a $7 million renovation and installed 66 tables for the new games, which also include baccarat and roulette.

"We said we would increase the amount of money we generate for the state through a table game offering," said Twin River chairman John Taylor. "Today, we begin to do just that."

Voters approved Twin River's proposal to expand from a slot parlor to a full-fledged casino last fall.

Supporters say the expansion will protect state gambling revenue from competition from Massachusetts, where casinos have been authorized but not yet built.

The facility also boasts has more than 4,500 slot machines.

The Newport Grand slot parlor had also sought permission for table games, and while voters statewide supported the idea in last fall's election, local voters balked. Casino referendums must pass statewide and in a facility's host community to be approved.

Twin River and Newport Grand contribute about $300 million a year to state coffers.