R.I. Senate hearing to begin on review of IGT contract

THE R.I. SENATE finance committee will begin its review of the International Game Technology PLC contract next week. /PBN FILE PHOTO/ PAM BHATIA
MOST STATES have approved fiscal 2021 budgets, but Rhode Island Democratic leaders have decided to wait until after the November election. /PBN FILE PHOTO/ PAM BHATIA

PROVIDENCE – After months of argument waged in news reports and through paid advertisements, the state’s legislative leaders are getting down to the business of evaluating a long-term contract for International Game Technology PLC.

The 20-year renewal of the lottery services contract is expected to be discussed by the state Senate Committee on Finance Thursday afternoon.

The hearing on the bill that would authorize the contract with IGT starts at 5 p.m. and is expected to continue for at least a few hours. No public testimony will be accepted at the initial hearing. A follow hearing – with space for public comment – is expected to be scheduled Oct. 24.

At the initial hearing, Senate staff will present an overview of state procurement procedure and the Division of Lottery will present the background on the state lottery system. A review of the original contract will be covered by Senate staff and the administration of Gov. Gina M. Raimondo.

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No vote is anticipated. The proceedings will be covered by Capitol TV, the state-sponsored channel for the R.I. General Assembly.

The hearing sets in motion the state’s review of a contract that will determine whether IGT should retain the business of providing lottery services in Rhode Island, which includes the operation of most slot machines at the two casinos in the state.

The contract negotiated by the Raimondo administration has been challenged by Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc., which operates the two casinos.

Its executives say the proposed extension is outside industry norms and doesn’t represent the best deal for taxpayers. It has challenged the proportion of the slot machines controlled by IGT at the two Twin River casinos.

The contract proposes an 85 percent share for IGT.

IGT, for its part, has said the contract renewal will keep 1,100 IGT jobs in Rhode Island, and represent a continuation of a partnership that has worked since 2003.

Since the dispute became public, advertisements on the radio and in newspapers have been airing regularly. And both corporations have hired additional lobbyists to speak with state officials, according to records online at the R.I. Secretary of State’s Office.

In addition to IGT and Twin River, Scientific Games Corp., a competitor to IGT, has registered two lobbyists with the state.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com.

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