Rhode Island Lottery to Yank 360 Lagging IGT Slot Machines From Twin River Casinos as Ocean State Spat Intensifies

Posted on: August 29, 2019, 10:12h. 

Last updated on: August 30, 2019, 02:31h.

The Rhode Island Lottery Commission is planning to pull 360 slot machines and video gaming devices manufactured by International Game Technology Plc (IGT) from the state’s two casinos, operated by Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (TRWH), because of alleged slack performance.

Twin River is getting its wish, sort of, as Rhode Island Lottery pulls 360 IGT machines from casinos there. (Image: Providence Journal)

That news is the latest in a multi-month spat between Twin River and IGT, one that reaches as high as Rhode Island’s governor’s office.

Lottery Director Gerald Aubin told a legislative oversight committee Monday that IGT’s slots were not meeting the minimum requirements in the company’s contract,” reports The Associated Press. “Department of Revenue spokesman Paul Grimaldi says Lottery officials informed IGT of the removal Tuesday.”

Last month, TRWH rolled out a public relations campaign aimed at thwarting a 20-year, $1 billion contract Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo was seeking to award to IGT. The operator of the Twin River and Tiverton casinos said the governor did not put the contract out to bid, making it anti-competitive, and that the pact allowed IGT to maintain an unlawful dominance in the Ocean State’s gaming machine market.

TRWH has consistently claimed that Rhode Island law allows for a single manufacturer to control up to half the machines at the state’s gaming properties. But the company asserts IGT’s percentage of the market is well in excess of 50 percent.

The most recent data from the Rhode Island Lottery Commission indicates IGT accounts for 84 percent of the state’s nearly 5,200 slot machines and video gaming terminals.

Battle Still Waging

News of the state removing some IGT machines could be seen as a victory for Twin River, because over the course of its public relations offensive, the casino operator has consistently asserted that the machine maker’s devices are not appealing to gamblers, thereby producing lower yields and less tax revenue for the state.

Local media reports indicate IGT will work with the state to remove the 360 devices from the Twin River and Tiverton casinos. But it is not immediately clear if the lottery commission will swiftly replace those machines with products made by IGT rivals.

At a time of intensifying competition in the New England gaming market, TRWH is looking for ways to keep gamblers loyal to its Rhode Island properties, and believes it would be at a disadvantage with outdated slot offerings.

Ethics Questions

For her part, Gov. Raimondo, a Democrat, has drawn ire on both sides of the aisle. Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, also a Democrat, is perturbed by the governor’s dealings with IGT, and openly questioned whether Raimondo’s proposed accord with the company would stand up to legislative inquiries.

Last month, the state Republican party filed an ethics complaint against Raimondo, and last week it was revealed that the Ethics Commission will investigate the allegations laid out in that filing.