PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island continues to feel the heat from the gambling industry in Massachusetts, as table games revenue at Twin River’s Lincoln casino fell 40% in August compared to a year earlier.
Video lottery terminal net revenue, meanwhile, fell 16% compared to the same month last year, extending similar losses reported for July after Wynn Resorts opened Encore Boston Harbor in Massachusetts a month earlier.
“[It’s] apparent that Twin River Casino in Lincoln is experiencing the effects of competition with Encore,” Rhode Island Lottery spokesperson Paul Grimaldi wrote in an email.
The Lincoln losses on table games and video lottery terminals, including slot machines, were largely offset by money generated from sports betting and gains reported at Twin River’s second casino in Tiverton.
The Tiverton casino opened last year in September.
The two state-owned casinos, which Twin River operates, together reported about $43 million in table games and video lottery terminal revenue in August, totaling about $1 million less than last year.
Lucky for casinos, sports bettors lost $851,788 in August, helping to make up for the $1 million decline.
Lottery officials have long braced for the impact of out-of-state competition such as Encore. In March, the state commissioned a report showing Encore is expected to divert about $30 million in slots revenue and $9 million in table games revenue from the two state-owned casinos between fiscal years 2018-19 and 2023-24.
Twin River, meanwhile, cut its profit forecast in August by 10% after considering the impact Encore would have on its earnings. The company is supposed to contribute $309 million from video lottery terminals and $19.9 million from table games to the state’s general fund this fiscal year.
Twin River Worldwide Holdings President and CEO George Papanier recently told investors in August the casinos had “yet to see the return of the majority of the customers” who have tried Encore. The company has also laid off employees in recent months.
The future of gambling is important in Rhode Island, as gaming revenue is the third-largest source of revenue after property and personal income taxes.
The growing competition in Massachusetts is happening at the same time Rhode Island lawmakers consider a $1 billion, 20-year contract extension proposal between the state and gaming technology company IGT.
IGT is looking to extend its current 20-year contract another two decades to continue to run the state’s gaming technology system and state Lottery.
The House Finance Committee and Senate Finance Committee are hosting several public meetings this fall to vet to proposed deal, which Twin River hopes they will put out through a competitive bidding process and award to them instead.