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Monday, July 13, 2020
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Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

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Tiverton Casino Hotel ready for Labor Day Weekend grand opening

In many ways, Tiverton, Rhode Island, is a classic New England town, with a history dating back to the late 1600s, ocean views, an assortment of ponds, lots of wooded areas and a population of just over 15,000 residents.

Adding a casino to the mix isn't going to suddenly change the dynamic of this sleepy town sitting on Narragansett Bay, and that's by design.

In fact, as you drive onto the 52-acre piece of land about 20 miles southeast of Providence, you would never know that the new $140 million, 85,000-square-foot Tiverton Casino Hotel has slot machines and table games inside if not for a few modest signs that sport the venue's name and logo — a far cry from the much-ballyhooed MGM Springfield casino that opened with much pomp and circumstance last week in the western part of Massachusetts.

"No, there's no glitz and glamour here, and that's exactly how we wanted it," Joe Moore, the casino's vice president and general manager, told Casino City after Thursday morning's ribbon cutting. "Three years ago, when we had our original conversations with the people of Tiverton, there were worries about the casino having flashy neon signs and big spotlights all over the place. But we told them, that's not us. That's not what we want. That's what we promised them."

The casino opens to the public on Saturday morning, one month before the original projected date, and what's found inside follows a similar "no frills" sensibility to the exterior. The 33,600-square-foot casino floor features 1,000 slot machines and 32 table games. There is a small racebook with 12 betting terminals in one corner that will offer pari-mutuel simulcast betting on thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing from most major U.S. tracks, as well as jai alai — and there's a strong possibility of adding sports betting to the mix as soon as November. In the middle of the casino is a “stadium” set-up, with 18 “hybrid” seats that allow players to try their luck at table games against a common live dealer while sitting at their own station with interactive terminals.

Smoking is allowed throughout the casino thanks to a high-tech ventilation system, except for inside the glassed-in Market Square area in the back corner, which houses 48 slot machines and grab-and-go food options like burger joint Mooyah and Pie Five Pizza Co.

Speaking of food and beverage, Chef Luciano Canova’s Trattoria Romana is the main sit-down restaurant. The design screams elegance, with large walls of wine bottles and unique wall art. But the space also serves as home to a separate room and much smaller venue: Canova’s newest concept, Tuscan Chophouse, open Thursday through Sunday. An eight-seat bar with three high-top tables will offer menus from both restaurants.

According to Moore, the casino’s center bar area — which sits in the far back, behind the gaming floor — hopes to serve as a popular local spot, with live music on weekends. It also features Rhode Island’s first self-serve iPourIt system. With 24 taps on the wall that rotate different wines and craft beers seasonally, customers pay by the ounce for their beverage of choice and do the pouring themselves. The bar also offers a unique cocktail menu, already primed for the fall season with choices like Good Morning Rhode Island (Absolut Vanilla, Bailey’s B&B Liqueur, Ristretto Espresso Liqueur, caramel, milk, espresso dusting), the Fall Time Rocker (Jack Daniels Fire, Woodford Reserve, pumpkin syrup, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg dusting) and Giddy Up (Bulleit Rye, Falernum Liqueur, lemon juice, pineapple juice, Angostura Bitters, cinnamon, mint sprig).

Finally, the 84-room hotel at Tiverton is connected to the gaming area by a long hallway, with the lobby right inside the casino’s front doors. The hotel also has meeting spaces.

Thursday’s ceremony took place less than 48 hours after the casino’s owner, Twin River Worldwide Holdings, closed the Newport Grand Casino — just 17 miles away — after 42 years, and transferred the gaming license to Tiverton.

The company, based in nearby Lincoln, also has the much larger Twin River Casino — located 35 miles away from Tiverton, north of Providence — in its portfolio, as well as Arapahoe Park in Colorado and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Officials were quick to point out that the large majority of Newport Grand’s 160 employees accepted jobs at Tiverton Casino Hotel, which has more than 500 employees overall.

“Tiverton is a convenience casino,” said Moore. “It’s in a much more convenient location, just off the highway, and it’s on a significantly larger footprint. And we've added a hotel, which we didn't have to offer to our guests in Newport . . . We’re confident we’ve given everyone involved exactly what we promised.”

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