Scientific Games joins consortium opposing $1B IGT deal

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Scientific Games, one of IGT’s biggest competitors, has joined the team of gambling companies trying to convince lawmakers to put a $1 billion lottery contract through a competitive bidding process.

IGT, a gaming technology company, has helped run the Rhode Island Lottery and provide gaming technology to the state-run casinos since 2003. Lawmakers are considering whether to extend the contract another 20 years through a legislative process as proposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

A competing consortium of businesses, led by casino operator Twin River Worldwide Holdings, has mounted a public campaign against the proposed deal, calling on lawmakers to put it through a competitive bidding process and award it to them instead.

Marc Crisafulli, Twin River executive vice president, points to Scientific Games’ newly announced involvement as evidence there’s significant interest from the industry for the state to put the contract through a competitive bidding process.

“We believe this is ultimately very good news for Rhode Island taxpayers,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our conversation with members of the General Assembly about the efficacy of a public bid process, the extraordinary savings to the state that likely could be realized when competition enters the marketplace and how we can collaboratively protect and enhance the state’s third largest source of revenue.”

IGT spokesperson Bill Fischer fired back at the announcement, pointing to the timing, which comes ahead of a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the IGT contract proposal at 5 p.m.

The timing of such announcements, Fischer said, has become common for Twin River’s public campaign against the deal.

“It wouldn’t be a hearing day without an announcement from Twin River,” Fischer said. “At this point, lawmakers should take notice that Twin River is now proposing four entities to replace IGT and the services we provide.”

The consortium opposing the IGT deal includes Twin River and Scientific Games, along with Intralot and Camelot Lottery Solutions. The four companies, along with IGT, have competed for lottery contracts across the country and in Europe.

Unlike Intralot and Camelot, however, Scientific Games has a much larger footprint of business in the United States, operating lottery services in 44 states, according to a press release.

“As the only full-service lottery provider headquartered in the United States, Scientific Games is very excited about bringing our global leadership in lottery and gaming products to Rhode Island in a more meaningful way,” said Patrick McHugh of Scientific Games.

When asked about it Tuesday afternoon, Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo criticized Twin River and its effort to oppose the deal she helped craft.

The second-term governor said the casino operator should work to get its “own house in order,” referencing Twin River’s recent agreement to pay the state $180,000 to resolve a dispute over its borrowing capacity.

“They need to focus on their own business,” she said. “I have serious concerns about the management at Twin River and their ability to run their own business much less go after business that they are clearly unqualified to do.”

House Minority Leader Rep. Blake Filippi, R-New Shoreham, has called for an independent study of the deal.

“We’re working to obtain an independent study, and the addition of Scientific Games will certainly be part of the analysis,” he said.

The news of Scientific Games entering the scene also caught the attention of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston. The House Finance Committee is holding its own hearings to vet the proposed deal.

“Today’s announcement by Scientific Games will certainly have to be considered as the legislative process moves forward,” he said.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Kim Kalunian contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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