The debate over a proposed 20-year deal for IGT Global Services and Twin River continues to heat up ahead of an expected General Assembly vote next month.
House Republicans last week went on the offensive against the deal, using data from a study commissioned by the House to argue that the state will spend hundreds of millions of dollars more than it needs to.
On Thursday, IGT and Twin River responded, using a letter to lawmakers to defend the proposal and to characterize the GOP criticism of it as flawed.
House GOP Leader Blake Filippi of Block Island and three members of his caucus sent other lawmakers a letter Monday, raising concerns about the proposed 20-year deal with Twin River and IGT.
The Republicans point to what they call a weak job-requirements in the proposal.
Citing a study by House consultant Christiansen Capital Advisors, they say the state would overpay by $660 million over the life of the 20-year contract, mostly by renting video lottery terminals from IGT and Twin River, rather than buying its own VLTs.
“The advocates for this legislation and contract extension have represented for months that the State will suffer no payment premium,” the GOP lawmakers wrote. “The CCA report and attached spreadsheets confirm this to be false.”
The Republicans also say a 20-year contract is too long at a time of rapid change in technology.
In their own letter to lawmakers, IGT and Twin River tout their proposal, which was unveiled in January after the two firms spent much of 2019 sniping at one another.
At the time, the two firms billed the deal as a way to protect Rhode Island’s third-largest source of state revenue.
The plan calls for the companies to split VLT revenue, expand Twin River’s Lincoln casino, and create a Providence headquarters for Twin River.
In their new letter, the companies say the deal would have an annual economic impact on the state of $300 million, including $25 million in taxes generated each year by 2,500 jobs. The positive effect of that, they say, is “simply staggering.”
IGT and Twin River also assert that it’s a mistake to draw conclusions from the Christiansen report because, they said, it is not based on the proposal currently before lawmakers. “And it specifically ignores the value of any economic development benefits to Rhode Island,” they say.
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