No bid, 20-year IGT-Bally’s deal headed for House approval

Nathan Law

PROVIDENCE — Legislation giving IGT and its new technology partner — the Bally’s Corporation — a no-bid, 20-year contract to run Rhode Island’s gambling empire for the state Lottery won House approval on Tuesday. The final vote in favor of the legislation- now headed to Senate – was 62-to-11. The battle has gone […]

PROVIDENCE — Legislation giving IGT and its new technology partner — the Bally’s Corporation — a no-bid, 20-year contract to run Rhode Island’s gambling empire for the state Lottery won House approval on Tuesday.

The final vote in favor of the legislation- now headed to Senate – was 62-to-11.

The battle has gone on for years, but nears an end with the legislature’s outnumbered Republicans almost entirely alone now on the battlefield.

The fate of the first in a series of proposed GOP amendments signaled what was to come on Tuesday night. The bid to double Rhode Island’s share of the table-game revenue to 25% to match Massachusetts failed on a 53-to-11 vote. 

Bottom line: The bill obligates the IGT-led partnership to 1,100-plus jobs in Rhode Island in exchange for exclusive control through 2043 of the technology that runs Rhode Island’s state-sponsored gambling, including the electronic and live table-game action at the two glitzy Twin River casinos.

The House GOP’s attempt to ensure the 1,100 jobs guaranteed by International Game Technology — and the 30 additional employees pledged by Bally’s (the former Twin River) — actually work for those companies failed 45-to-16.

Slot machines line the walls at Twin River's Tiverton Casino Hotel in Tiverton.

When he unveiled the reworked bill last week, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi said: “The legislation increases revenue to our state and preserves critical jobs.”

The required upfront payment is larger, at $27 million, than first proposed by then-Gov. Gina Raimondo, and the penalty for missing the 1,100 jobs guarantee is also larger. 

But the leader of the House GOP took to social media to protest the length of the Lottery contract and the terms which — by his math — give Rhode island — which runs the casinos — half as big a share as Massachusetts gets from table games at its privately-run casinos.

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