Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposed 20-year Lottery deal with gambling machine manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT) has come under heavy scrutiny by Twin River Worldwide Holdings.
That group, which owns state-run casinos in the state, took out a full-page advertisement in Sunday’s Providence Journal asserting that the $1-billion, no-bid, 20-year deal would end up costing Rhode Island taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost gambling revenue.
In short, Twin River’s aggressive media campaign argues that the state’s electronic gambling machine operator contract should go out for bid among IGT’s competitors to ensure Rhode Island gets the best deal possible.
IGT is no stranger to U.S. deals, creating a partnership with William Hill in January. However, this one is significantly more controversial.
“We think R.I. taxpayers should be terrified by this deal,” said Marc Crisafulli, executive vice president of Twin River Worldwide Holdings and president of the company’s Rhode Island casinos.
Crisafulli provided data to the Providence Journal from the last 12 months at Twin River’s two state casinos, Tiverton Casino Hotel and Twin River Casino Hotel, which indicates IGT’s machines generate less overall revenue than two of its competitors.
Twin River’s three electronic gambling machine suppliers are Scientific Games (SG), Everi and IGT. According to the data Crisafulli provided to the Journal, SG earns a daily average of $401 per machine and $146,000 annually.
The state’s annual revenue for each machine is about $87,000. Everi, on the other hand, earns a daily average of $303 per machine and $110,000 annually. That provides the state with around $66,000 in revenue annually.
IGT machines earn a daily average of $258 per machine and $94,000 annually. That totals about $56,000 in state revenue per machine each year.
And that might just be the first of many data sets Crisafulli intends to release.
"We believe that this agreement is not in the interest of the Rhode Island taxpayers,” Crisafulli said. “Over the next weeks, we will share with you our concerns and further explain why this is a bad idea."
Gov. Raimondo’s proposed deal with IGT remains subject to a legislative review, which will commence after Labor Day since Raimondo signed the deal just as the last legislative session was ending.
A spokesperson for Gov. Raimondo said the deal would net the state $25 million via an upfront payment from IGT, earn an additional $150 million in capital investments over the next 20 years and keep at least 1,100 permanent jobs in Rhode Island.
“IGT is one of only three companies in the world — and the only company in Rhode Island — capable of operating this system, and this agreement ensures Rhode Island employees will be guaranteed jobs for decades to come," Josh Block, Raimondo's spokesman, told the Journal.
In exchange for that heavy investment, Rhode Island’s Lottery would purchase 85 percent of its 5,000-plus electronic gambling machines from IGT, something that lawmakers will likely have to discuss and consider further in September because state law currently prohibits any company from providing more than 50 percent of its gambling machines.