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Former RI Lottery director changes mind after registering as IGT lobbyist

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Just days after former R.I. Lottery Director Gerald Aubin registered as a lobbyist for IGT, the state’s longtime gambling regulator tells Target 12 he will not be working for the company after all.

Aubin, who served as director of the state Lottery beginning in 1996, retired in July 2020. Last month, he formed a new company called GSA LLC, and as of Wednesday he was listed on the secretary of state’s website as a lobbyist for IGT — a company he regulated for two decades.

After Target 12 contacted Aubin about the new business relationship this week, however, he said he was approached by IGT to work for them, which he considered, but ultimately he had a change of heart.

“I began pursuing the IGT offer but in the end chose not to,” Aubin wrote in an email. “To be clear, there are specific rules and regulations that govern my involvement in the private sector as a former state employee. And, I would have complied with all of them. Nevertheless, as a former gaming regulator and law enforcement official, I couldn’t get comfortable with it.”

IGT, an international gambling titan formerly known as GTECH, runs the technology system behind the state’s Lottery system, along with most of the slot machines at Rhode Island’s two Bally’s-owned casinos. The company is listed on the secretary of state’s website as retaining Aubin as a lobbyist on Aug. 25, at a monthly rate of $7,500.

But Aubin said that’s no longer the case.

“Even though it would have been perfectly legitimate for me to enter into an agreement with IGT or any other company, I will not nor have I received any compensation from IGT or expect to in the future,” he said.

Bob Vincent, IGT Chairman of Global Solutions Co., confirmed Aubin’s statements Wednesday, saying the company wanted to bring him aboard to help build business in other states and internationally because he’s well-regarded across the gambling industry.

“The industry has tremendous respect for him, both his integrity and experience,” Vincent told Target 12, pointing to his past experience as a regulator and in law enforcement. “His value to an organization is unparalleled.”

IGT encouraged him to register as a lobbyist with the state, but Vincent said he never lobbied on behalf of the company. Aubin echoed the point, adding that he’s no longer interested in lobbying at all.

“It was an outgrowth of my desire for transparency,” he said. “I talk with former colleagues at the [Lottery] and if I became a consultant to IGT, those interactions would be subject to the lobbying statue. I have no intent of starting a lobbying practice in RI.”

Before retiring, Aubin played a role in negotiating a 20-year, $1 billion contract extension for IGT, which has run the state’s Lottery system since 2001. The General Assembly and Gov. Dan McKee approved the deal after Aubin retired, and it ultimately included Bally’s, formerly known as Twin River, which Aubin also regulated.

Vincent highlighted the long-term contract as evidence that the company’s business is well-established in Rhode Island and that Aubin’s value would come from his help in other states.

“We’re in good shape here,” Vincent said.

Negotiations surrounding the contract extension were highly publicized and became ugly at times, as IGT and Bally’s jockeyed for public and regulatory support. And news about Aubin and IGT’s recent conversations drew criticism from opponents of that deal.

“Very little should surprise us now that the state has handed over most control of our state casinos to Twin River and IGT,” House Minority Leader Blake Filippi told Target 12 Wednesday.

Aubin said he initially considered the IGT lobbying job because he thought he could add value given his experience in gaming. And it wouldn’t be the first time he’s leveraged his more than two decades of regulating the gambling industry into a deal in the private sector.

The Providence Journal in January reported Aubin was hired as an adviser to Spectrum Gaming Group, which helped Rhode Island develop its sports-betting operation.

Aubin was the longest-serving head of the state’s Lottery, which had annual revenue totaling about $400 million when he retired. Aubin also spent 21 years in the Providence Police Department, where he retired as deputy chief.

He is currently earning $3,643 per month from his city pension and $4,066 per month from his state pension, according to Providence pension payroll records and the state general treasurer’s office.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is an investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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