A year ago, IGT and Twin River, two of Rhode Island’s largest employers and gaming powerhouses, were the worst of enemies. Now, a year later the rivals have teamed up and are pushing for a new 20-year agreement that will preserve thousands of jobs and improve the state’s lottery products, according to the companies.
In dueling State House hearings before the House and Senate Finance Committees on Tuesday, legislators heard testimony on the new proposed deal and also passed an amendment to allow gamblers to use the sports betting app without going to activate their accounts at one of the Twin River Casino facilities.
The new deal pending before the RI General Assembly provides Rhode Island a much needed $25 million upfront payment — the first payment is due on or before June 30, 2022 ($12.5 million) and a second payment on or before June 30, 2023 ($12.5 million)
The deal would require IGT to preserve jobs in Rhode Island. “In 2019 we were in excess of 1000, our current commitment. In July, we reported to the Department of Commerce that as of April 2020, our six-month rolling average was 1051.7 FTEs,” according to Bob Vincent, Chairperson of IGT Global Solutions Corporation.
The biggest critic of the proposed 20-year deal is House Minority Leader Blake Filippi, who alleges the deal will overpay IGT millions.
Filippi continued on the theme that he laid out in an April 7 letter to House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin Abney, saying that the House GOP's most recent estimate "now pegs the potential lease overpayments at up to $520 million (up from $420 million) over the life of the proposed 20-year contract."
Vincent dismissed Filippi’s assessment.
“The lease payments are comparable to other states offering similar VLT programs. Any alternative would require major upfront payments for machines by the state competing for resources with basic services as well as locking the state into maintaining and disposing of those machines. The leases are a good deal for the state and meet their needs,” said Vincent.
One question that may be looming is in the midst of a pandemic and the closure of casinos in Rhode Island and across the Globe is — is this deal, a 20-year commitment, still a good business decision for Rhode Island.
“During these challenges times, while most companies are looking for efficiencies and reevaluating brick and mortar headquarters, IGT has maintained their commitment to Rhode Island. The legislation, once enacted, will protect over 1100 good-paying jobs in the Ocean State and prevent further economic disruption,” said Vincent.
GoLocalProv News Team
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