Twin River Casino Parent Says IGT Slot Machines ‘Are the Worst,’ Further Criticizes $1B Rhode Island Lottery Contract
Posted on: July 30, 2019, 08:02h.
Last updated on: July 30, 2019, 08:02h.
Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc, parent to the Twin River and Tiverton casinos in Rhode Island, is upping its antagonism against IGT and the company’s proposed $1 billion lottery contract with the state.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) has backed legislation introduced to the General Assembly that would extend IGT’s exclusive rights to operate the state lottery for another 20 years to 2043. Senate Bill 1031 would additionally allow the UK-based gaming manufacturer and service provider to control up to 85 percent of the video lottery terminals (VLT) – aka slot machines – at the state’s two commercial casinos owned by Twin River.
A new radio spot says, “Raimondo wants them to have almost all the slot machines in the casinos, and they are the worst ones on the floor. It’s going to cost the state millions.” The Providence Journal reported the audio dialogue.
State law currently allows IGT to account for up to 50 percent of the slot machines at Twin River and Tiverton. Combined, the two casinos have more than 5,100 terminals.
Along with its two Rhode Island casinos, Twin River owns the Hard Rock in Biloxi, Mississippi, Dover Downs in Delaware, and Arapahoe Park horse racetrack in Colorado.
Twin River has denounced the 20-year lottery and slot contract Raimondo has suggested for IGT. The casino operator isn’t in the manufacturing business itself, but says it would partner with such a company to offer a better deal for the state.
Twin River’s marketing campaign directs listeners to StopNoBidDeal.com, a website seeking to explain why a competitive bidding process should be held. It also scolds IGT technology.
IGT machines do not stack up competitively. They are underperforming compared to machines from the state’s two other VLT vendors. More than 1,800 of their machines are more than a decade old. Their competition, Scientific Games, has made considerably more investment,” Twin River opines.
IGT naturally disagrees. The company says it will install new machines at the Rhode Island casinos, and will agree to a $150 million capital investment mandated in the 20-year contract extension, and maintain 1,100 jobs in the state.
IGT financed a study on the economic benefits its operating of the Rhode Island Lottery and casino slot machines provides to the state. Bryant University Professor of Economics Edi Tebaldi carried out the review, and concluded that IGT will generate $329.5 million in economic activity in the state this year.
“IGT supports 2,445 jobs (direct, indirect and induced), produces $176.1 million in labor income, and generates $329.5 million in value for Rhode Island’s economy annually,” Tebaldi said. He adds that tax revenues total nearly $26 million annually for state and local governments.
Rhode Island businessman and philanthropist billionaire Alan Hassenfeld – the former chairman and CEO of his family’s Pawtucket-based Hasbro toys – is offering to pay for an independent review regarding the IGT contract extension.
“I have no skin in the game with IGT or Twin River,” Hassenfeld told the Journal. “To do something like this without having really outside professionals come in, I don’t care who pays for the consultants – if you want me to pay for the consultants – I really would beg the governor and the speaker and the Senate to sit down and together bring in some consultants to analyze.”
In the meantime, the Rhode Island GOP has petitioned the state Ethics Commission to launch a probe into the IGT-Raimondo deal.
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