RI Senate hearings on IGT deal to start Sept. 19

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Senate leaders announced Friday they will begin holding hearings Sept. 19 on the proposed 20-year extension of gaming giant IGT’s state contract.

The Senate Finance Committee plans a series of 5 p.m. hearings about the legislation — Senate bill 1031 — that would authorize the contract, slated to take place Sept. 19, Oct. 1, Oct. 15, Oct. 22 and Oct. 24.

The Sept. 19 hearing “will include an overview of state procurement processes and a review of the current lottery system provider contract,” the announcement said.

“Subsequent hearings will include an analysis of the terms proposed in Senate bill 1031 and alternative proposals; inquiry into the negotiation and development of proposed contract terms; analysis of economic impact studies on the proposal; and an overview of best practices and the current landscape related to gaming industry technology provider services,” the statement continued.

Public testimony about the deal will be taken at the last hearing, on Oct 24.

The Senate has also created a website, SenateLotteryContractHearings.com, to help the public follow the process. Similar websites were created to accompany the hearings on the 2011 pension overhaul and the failed PawSox stadium plan two years ago.

The Senate’s announcement came a day after Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office and IGT sent lawmakers more than 1,300 pages of documents related to the deal for their review.

The House has not yet announced its schedule for hearings. Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has lately appeared more hesitant about the deal than Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, though both participated in the negotiations and signed onto Raimondo’s June news release announcing it.

IGT’s current 20-year state contract was reached in 2003 when the company was still GTECH. Raimondo wants to extend it by another 20 years, giving the London-based company exclusive rights to manage traditional lottery games and operate most slot machines in exchange for a $25 million payment, a $150 million capital investment and at least 1,100 in-state jobs.

Twin River Worldwide Holdings — which has the contract to operate Rhode Island’s two state casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton — has cried foul over the proposed extension, arguing the state should put it out to bid and acknowledging it wanted the contract for itself so it could move into the gaming technology space.

One of IGT’s biggest competitors, Scientific Games, has also signaled interest.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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