But don’t let the smoking conjure dreams of Hollywood-inspired casino amenities. Your cocktail waitress will not bring you free drinks. The prices, however, are reasonable. I put a $10 on the bar for a glass of Wild Turkey 101 and got a few dollars back in change — Providence restaurant prices.
The guests seem to be a microcosm of the state. I saw frat boys with ballcaps and sunglasses fulfilling their Texas Hold ’Em TV fantasies at the poker tables. Senior citizens carefully placed their chips at the tables or dropped coins with robotic efficiency in the slots. A skinny kid with a cigarette behind his ear tried to get a beer from the bartender without an ID. (He failed.) And a balding man in his fifties with a tattoo of his father on his arm — the word “Dad” written beneath it — watched as business-casual Gen X guys wagered bills on blackjack.
If you’ve seen Swingers you know what happens to a wagered bill. The dealer changes it out for a chip. Do not hand her the bill. Place it on the table. Then, as in Casino, the dealer puts the bill in the drop box that will eventually go to the money room where it is counted. For every dollar Twin River Casino takes in at their tables, 18 percent goes to the state, 82 percent stays with the house (62 percent of the revenue from slots goes to state coffers).
It’s clear that the people who care about table games are pleased with their arrival. Gamblers are happy in their element, and Twin River Casino is giving it to them. The anti-gambling folks who fear Lincoln will become an Atlantic City-like destination littered with crime and prostitution probably have nothing to worry about. There’s no room on the property for a hotel. A strip club isn’t on the list of future amenities.
None of that matters to Bob Mello, an avid gambler from Bristol who worked his way from the pressroom to the newsroom at the ProJo decades ago. In his younger days he was a weekly regular, betting on dogs and making a few bucks.
“It was mostly men at that time,” he says. “Now it may be more women then men. Or maybe 50/50.”
He’s old enough to remember betting on ponies at Lincoln Downs, and he still likes to gamble. He finds his action mostly on the Internet now, “instead of driving 40 minutes to get out to Lincoln.”
But he makes the trip from time to time when he’s not doting on his grandchildren.
“The weekends are fun if you like music and noise,” he says. “Years ago you could go out with ten dollars in your pocket and have an enjoyable day. You’re not going to be able do that today.”
Tracy, an East Providence resident, was never a fan of the dogs. She played the slots. The new table games called to her, however, and she went in to try her luck. She said it felt like a “real casino” and believes the place will snag some of the money Rhode Islanders are spending at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. She called it a “win, win.” It was for her, at least. She played blackjack and won.