While the players tried their luck at the opening, a union of security officers struck right outside the door.
TIVERTON – Cliff Raistrick was waiting with some friends who really wanted to take a look at the new Twin River – Diverton Casino. When the doors opened, the resident of Newport knew exactly where he was going
"I'll beat the roulette, play the odds," he said.
After a soft opening on Wednesday and a solemn ceremony Thursday, the "Convenience" casino, which hosts 1,000 slot machines and 32 table games, was opened to the public on Saturday morning at 10am. Hundreds of people lined the front walkway of the casino, which sits on a 21
"I loved this moment when we opened the doors staff were all here, from the company president at the end," said Patti Doyle, a spokesman for the Twin River Management Group. "There was obviously a sense of excitement and anticipation, and it's nice that the day is finally here."
Doyle said there are no "projections or expectations" for the opening day. "We just want to make sure every single guest who walks through this door has a positive experience, and the crew here is ready to entertain guests all day and all night," she added.
Tiverton Voters approved a casino in November 2016, and the $ 140 million project collapsed about 13 months ago. Twin River transferred the gambling license from Newport Grand, a slot salon, to the new Tiverton facility, located less than half a mile from Route 24.
There is a three-story, 84-room hotel on the property. It will take about seven to ten days before the casino begins to make reservations.
"That was by design," Doyle said. "The rooms are ready, but we just wanted to get involved in this whole process."
David Dupont was a frequent visitor to the Newport Grand, but from his home in New Bedford, Massachusetts, he will have a much shorter trip to Twin River-Tiverton, waiting in the parking garage for his brother's arrival, Dupont said his only interest applies to the slot machines.
"I do not play the card games," he said.
Dupont was invited to the opening on Wednesday because he was a member of the Newport Grand reward. He was in a number of casinos in the area, and this is piled up.
"We went ar I checked it and I liked it," said Dupont. "I was impressed by everything, they did a good job."
Slot machines were a popular choice early Saturday morning, but about an hour after the doors opened, the table games filled up. As promised, Raistrick was stationed at the roulette table. He was exuberant as the ball whirled around and fell into a winning number. "Let's keep the fire going!" He shouted, standing behind a big pile of chips.
About 45 minutes later he was ready to pay off.
"I came here with $ 30 and I'm $ 360," he said. "I'm done."
The opening day was not fun and a game for everyone. There were about a dozen pickets with signs right off the casino, at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road. They represented the Casino Security Officers Association of Rhode Island Local No. 1.
The group, whose members were security guards at Newport Grand, formed a union on March 10 and negotiated a first contract with Twin River. The union is looking for better wages and working conditions, said spokesman Ralph Ezoviski.
The negotiations stagnated when it came to the classification of five security officers. Twin River called them "captains" or management, and the union did not agree. Ezoviski said the casino had offered to give the five employees jobs at its plant in Lincoln, but the union refused.
The union met on Wednesday evening and announced it would strike during the opening. The next day, Ezoviski said, the five employees, including the president and the union secretary, were fired.
"That's why we're here today," said Ezoviski.
The pickets are purely informative, Ezoviski said, and the guards have no intention of striking. He said the union just wants to find common ground with the casino.
"I told them to pick a time, choose a location and we will negotiate," he said.
Doyle said she knew the members of the union would protest, but offered no further comments.