12 to Watch in 2012: John Taylor

Friday, December 30, 2011


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Taking on challengers from all corners: Twin River's John Taylor.

It’s easy to say Rhode Island’s budget shouldn’t rely so heavily on gaming revenue, but that’s not Twin River Chairman John Taylor’s problem to address in 2012.  

What Taylor is faced with is the real possibility that Massachusetts will grab up to 35 percent of the Lincoln-based casino’s annual revenues when three resort-style casinos and a slot parlor open in the Bay State.  

The key battle in 2012 will be to make sure Rhode Island voters support a referendum that will allow table games like blackjack, craps and poker at Twin River, a move that could generate about $100 million in additional revenue for the casino. 

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Taylor contends that if table games are supported by voters, the casino can withstand challenges from other competitors. He maintains that Twin River will focus on its status as a convenience casino as opposed to a lavish resort like Mohegan Sun or any a Steve Wynn-led effort in Massachusetts.  

But if voters oppose table games, more than a few Rhode Islanders are predicting Twin River could fold, which could decimate the state’s budget, forcing tax hikes and major cuts to entitlement programs. The doom and gloom scenario is not one Taylor likes to acknowledge, but it is something state officials--including Governor Chafee--are aware of. 

Taylor is unsure of the ultimate endgame when more competition eventually does come to the region, but he maintains that Twin River has increased its profits virtually every single month over the past two years, a sign people still enjoy a night in Lincoln. 

The key now is getting out ahead of the competition by approving table games and offering top notch customer service that leaves customers feeling good about their experience. Taylor’s thinking is that if Twin River continues to treat people well, they might try the competition, but they’ll eventually come back to Rhode Island. 

But it is essential that the state pass table games in 2012, he says. 

“We’ve got a property that is outperforming its competitors,” Taylor said. “We just need extra tools in our tool box.”


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