Moore: Twin River’s Labor Strife Highlights Obamacare’s Weakness

Monday, June 12, 2017


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Twin River

Did anyone else find it ironic that as Congress is amidst a process to repeal the Affordable HealthCare Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, Twin River casino is trying to quell an employee uprising over the cost of health care?

I didn’t think so either. But let’s think about this for a minute or two.

Isn’t is disingenuous that both sides of the political spectrum are whipped up into a frenzy over a debate to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment over his 8-year tenure, when in reality he did nothing to make healthcare more affordable?

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island is requesting rate increases for large employers and other insurance customers. Part of their reasoning for the rate hike is due to, you may have guessed it, costs associated with Obamacare.

Problem Persists

Meanwhile, the roughly 300 Twin River Casino food and beverage workers, who are members of UNITE HERE Local 26, saw their required health care contributions and out-of-pocket maximums (deductibles) unilaterally doubled at the beginning of this year. The food and beverage workers were being forced to pay $230 per week for a family plan for health care.

The union began negotiating with the workers to come to an agreement that provides some relief for the employees. The workers threatened a strike, and actually walked off work at 4 a.m. for about 5 minutes, in a largely symbolic show of strength.

“If I were to put me and my daughter on Twin River’s health care, it would cost us $1,200 a month—as much as rent or a mortgage,” said Alexis Maciel, a beverage server, as reported by GoLocal earlier last week.. “I’d have to move my family to afford Twin River’s health care.”


Yet progressives make it seem like Obamacare somehow solved America’s healthcare crisis. In reality, the bill did nothing to protect American workers like those food and beverage workers at Twin River. Almost every single year since the passage of the supposedly landmark legislation, premiums have gone up, usually double-digits.

It takes a really disingenuous person to argue that doing nothing would have been much different.  None of this is to say that the Republicans have a better plan to improve health care in this country. Both sides are not being honest, and answer to lobbyists from the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry, whose clients are getting plenty rich from the status quo.

Speaking of getting rich, Twin River seems to be doing just fine. It’s hard to understand why the casino needed to slash health benefits for their workers at a time when the company was able to reward its shareholders with a $20 million stock buyback late last year.

The Rhode Island state legislature has been very accommodating of Twin River. The state has passed no less than 6 laws to try and help increase the company’s revenue. That’s fine, considering that the casino represents the state’s third largest source of income (excluding federal government aid).

Yet it would be nice if the company remained profitable without squeezing the life out of its workers.

That’s a lot to ask. I get it.

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Russell J. Moore has worked on both sides of the desk in Rhode Island media, both for newspapers and on political campaigns. Send him email at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @russmoore713.


Related Slideshow: How Do Twin River Casino and Plainridge Park Casino Match Up?

With Plainridge Park Casino opening in Plainville, MA, GoLocal looked into how the new facility will measure up against Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI.


1.) Payout Percentage: How much of each dollar spent is won back by a customer.

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Number of Slot Machines

Twin River: 4,500

Plaindridge Park: 1,200

Twin River has nearly four times the number of slot machines that Plainridge Park has available. 



Photo courtesy of: Flickr/Raging Wire

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Number of Table Games

Twin River: 80

Plaindridge Park: 50

Twin River offers 30 more table options than Plainridge Park, including poker, blackjack, craps, and more.



Photo courtesy of Flickr/Images Money

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Payout Percentage

Twin River: 90.845%

Plaindridge Park: N/A

The data for Plainridge Park will come out in the coming months, but Twin River's customers won back 90.845% of their money in May of 2015.



Photo courtesy of Flickr/Jessie Hodge

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Square Feet

Twin River: 300,000

Plaindridge Park: 106,000

Twin River's facility is nearly triple the size of Plainridge Park's and neither is limited to gambling areas.

The former has an event center, a cigar bar, and more. The latter has several restaurants and a horse track.

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Number of Hotel Rooms

Twin River: None

Plaindridge Park: None

Neither Twin River or Plainridge Park currently offer hotel accomodations for their customers. Instead, they suggest to search for nearby options. 

However, plans to build a hotel at Twin River were approved in March of 2015 by the RI House of Representatives. A date for when construction would be finalized has not been announced. 

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Number of Restaurants

Twin River: 2

Plaindridge Park: 2

While both facilties offer food court options, each has two prominent dining locations.

Doug Flutie's Sports Pub is the featured option at Plainridge Park, while Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse is a Twin River staple. 

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Year Established

Twin River: 2007

Plaindridge Park: 2015

Twin River's grounds were first established when Lincoln Downs was built in 1947. It officially became known as Twin River Casino in March of 2007.

The casino at Plainridge Park has just been finalized, but the facility first opened in 1999 as a racetrack.

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Twin River: Twin River Event Center

Plaindridge Park: Revolution 1776 Lounge

Twin River's 29,000 square foot venue will play host to Whitesnake on July 24 and Boz Scaggs on August 1. 

The Revolution 1776 Lounge will welcome Thirty 6 Red on June 25, Bon Jersey on June 27, and Shattered on June 28.

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Hours of Operation

Twin River: 24/7

Plainridge Park: 24/7

Both casinos are open all day all year long, providing customers with the opportunity to win money at any hour of the day.

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Horse Racing

Twin River: None

Plainridge Park: Live-harness racing track

Horse racing distinguishes Plainridge Park from Twin River. 

At the Plainville location live-harness racing takes place all the way through November.



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