Bally’s Asks Rhode Island Officials for Higher Casino Credit Limits

Posted on: May 21, 2024, 09:11h. 

Last updated on: May 21, 2024, 09:46h.

Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corporation is seeking the freedom to issue larger credit lines to its high rollers.

Bally's Rhode Island casino credit line
Bally’s officials celebrate the completion of the company’s $100 million overhaul of its Twin River Lincoln casino in Rhode Island in April 2023. Bally’s is now seeking permission to extend higher credit lines to VIP gamblers. (Image: The Providence Journal)

Bally’s operates Rhode Island’s two commercial casino resorts. Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and Bally’s Tiverton operate slot-like video lottery terminals (VLTs) on behalf of the Rhode Island Lottery. The properties also include live dealer table games and sports betting.

Rhode Island’s gaming law currently limits the state’s authorized video lottery retailer, Bally’s, to issue up to $50K in gaming credit to a gambler. Bally’s is requesting to double the credit cap to $100K.

State Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-North Providence), a staunch supporter of gaming and the ongoing allowance of indoor smoking, in early May introduced a bill to raise the casino credit cap as requested by Bally’s. Ruggerio introduced the measure more than two months after the deadline for filing new bills.

A spokesperson for the powerful lawmaker said the bill’s tardy introduction was permitted because keeping the two Bally’s casinos competitive against competition in neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts is vital to the state’s financial interests. The state collects about 60% of the VLT revenue, roughly 18% of the table win, and 51% of the gross sportsbook win. 

Credit Explained

Casinos extend credit lines to high rollers and VIPs to circumvent their necessity to carry large amounts of cash. Commonly called “markers,” the credit lines are typically required to be repaid to the casino within 15 to 45 days with a post-dated check.

Unless the player is known to the casino, a gambler seeking a credit line could see their credit score impacted. Casinos typically require a person to authorize a credit check before receiving a marker, something that could damage the individual’s credit score. The Bally’s Corp.’s credit rating was recently hit with a slew of downgrades. 

Not all casinos offer credit, as staffing a credit department is costly and many smaller gaming properties don’t have the high-roller clientele to necessitate such overhead. However, most major gaming resorts in the US do, including Bally’s Lincoln and Tiverton.

It’s no surprise that high rollers are the most coveted guests in a casino. While whales account for only a small fraction of a casino’s overall floor traffic, they are thought to generate upwards of half of the industry’s gross gaming revenue.

No Credit Limits in Massachusetts, Connecticut

When Massachusetts lawmakers passed the state’s Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, they opted not to cap the amount of credit a casino can extend. Since Connecticut’s two casinos are tribally owned and operated on sovereign land, they too are free to determine how much credit they want to issue.

A Bally’s spokesperson told a Senate Committee considering Ruggerio’s bill that the credit elevation would apply only to a “very limited number of players.” She said the increase would allow the casinos to better compete with Massachusetts and Connecticut where high rollers are extended more credit.

We want to make sure that as the operator of the two casinos for the state of Rhode Island, we’re doing everything that we can to be regionally competitive,” the Bally’s official testified. “By that, I mean competitive with those casinos that are in Connecticut, which are some of the largest casinos in the United States, and Massachusetts.”

The Senate Committee on Special Legislation recommended that a further study be completed before voting on the statute.