he Rhode Island General Assembly has approved a new 20-year extension of the lottery contract between the state and IGT and Bally's Corporation, the operators of the Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Tiverton Casino Hotel, reports Lincoln, RI Patch.
The legislation by House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio was approved by state Senate on Tuesday by a 28 to 7 vote and now heads to the desk of Gov. Dan McKee, who said he supports it.
Shekarchi and Ruggerio said in a news release that the agreement represents an investment of more than $250 million to preserve and enhance Rhode Island's third-largest source of revenue.
Shekarchi said: "The legislation increases revenue to our state and preserves critical jobs. Along with the Senate, we have taken several steps to enhance the legislation on behalf of the taxpayers."
Ruggerio commented: "The Senate Finance Committee undertook an exhaustive review of this proposal and developed legislation that protects more than 1,000 jobs, guarantees significant capital investment and preserves the state's third-largest revenue stream."
The two lawmakers promoted the amended version of the legislation, saying various benefits were secured:
The bill includes the following components:
The two companies agreed to invest in a joint venture, with IGT having a 60% controlling stake and Twin River owning 40%. The joint venture will be a licensed VLT provider and supply all gaming machines to the Lottery. IGT manufactured machines and other manufacturers will supply the floor that will continue to be managed by an efficiency rating system. A minimum annual replacement cycle will be set at 6% with the flexibility to replace up to 8% in any year. At least 5% of the VLTs will be premium machines to keep the gaming offering on par with regional competitors.
The Rhode Island Division of Lotteries will maintain oversight and regulation of all gaming. All aspects of the lottery and gaming programs will continue to be state-operated.
Although it's not in the legislation, Bally's and IGT have agreed to raise the minimum wage for its Rhode Island employees to $13 per hour by Jan. 1, 2022; $14 per hour by Jan. 1, 2023; and $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2024. The changes occur a year ahead of statewide minimum wage increases enacted by the General Assembly last month.