In the never ending casino legal joust between the state and the Narragansett Indian Tribe, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge to the constitutionality of the state Casino Act.
Under the Casino Act, voters must approve expansion of gambling in Rhode Island. In recent elections, voters have approved table games at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, but a local referendum in Newport in 2014 barred table games at the Newport Grand slot parlor. Under the state Constutition, voters statewide and in a host community must approve before any gambling expansion is allowed.
The tribe, which has lost two bids for a casino in separate statewide referenda in 1994 and 2006, asserted that the state’s law that regulates casinos was ``facially’’ flawed because it, among other elements, is unconstitutionality vague and overly broad.
``Bases on the strong presumption of constitutionality and the heavy burden in mounting a facial challenge, we cannot say that the Casino Act is facially unconstitutional,’’ the court said in an opinion that upheld a R.I. Superior Court ruling. Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg did not participate in the matter. He husband, Robert Goldberg, is a prominent Statehouse lobbyist who has represented gambling interests, including Twin River.