2006-09-21 / Upcoming Events

Thomas gets no support for casino from deli customers

Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas gave deli patrons a briefing on plans for a West Warwick casino last Friday morning. Photo by Donna Drago Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas gave deli patrons a briefing on plans for a West Warwick casino last Friday morning. Photo by Donna Drago Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas rolled into Jamestown Friday morning on the second day of his tour of Rhode Island cities and towns to sell his plan for a gambling casino in West Warwick.

Thomas' bus - a giant blue and yellow painted vehicle of the type that transport country music stars - parked at East Ferry, and Thomas and his entourage, which included four public relations people, passed out bumper stickers and T-shirts to those islanders having a cup of coffee at East Ferry Deli.

Thomas addressed the group of about 20 Jamestowners - all inside due to rainy weather - and told them that the casino was good for Rhode Island because it would bring jobs and economic prosperity.

"So can we have your support?" Thomas asked after making his pitch.

"No," was the reply from everyone, and "A big no," came from Alcina Blair. Thomas said that he was excited

to come to Jamestown because of the history of the Narragansett tribe. "Our people used to come here for the summers," Thomas said, adding, "This is like a homecoming for me."

Asked about his reaction to the casino proposal from those at the deli, Thomas shrugged and said, "The response doesn't matter so much as everyone getting to see us and meet us."

Among the reasons that locals gave for not supporting a West Warwick casino was the effect casinos have on the elderly, many of whom are drawn to spend their fixed incomes.

"Look at what happened with the lottery," said Fran Lopes, who reminded the group that the lottery was touted as a way to bring an end to educational funding woes in Rhode Island, "and we know that hasn't worked out," she added.

Thomas said his bus will travel throughout the state until Oct. 21, when the Narragansett tribe is sponsoring a Waterfire event in Providence.

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