The Rhode Island General Assembly has voted to approve legislation that will expand the US state’s gaming partnerships with Bally’s Corporation and International Game Technology (IGT).
The Assembly said the legislation, which will now move forward to state Governor Daniel McKee for final sign-off, represents an economic development investment of more than $250m for the state and will preserve Rhode Island’s third-largest source of revenue.
The core component of the legislation is that IGT and Bally’s will establish a joint venture that will operate as a licensed video lottery terminal (VLT) provider in the state and supply all gaming machines to the state lottery.
IGT will have a 60% controlling stake in the venture, with Bally’s owning the remaining 40%.
A minimum annual replacement cycle of VLTs will be set at 6%, with flexibility to replace up to 8% in any year, while at least 5% of VLTs will be premium machines.
Other points set out in the bill include a commitment for IGT to create at least 100 new jobs in the state, with an agreement for IGT to pay a penalty if it does not meet employment levels.
Bally’s will also add 30 new jobs by the end of 2022 and agreed to invest $100m in the state, including a 50,000sq ft expansion of its casino site in Lincoln. If these jobs are not delivered, liquidated damages for any missed jobs count will be set at $7,500 per job for both IGT and Bally’s.
Outside of the legislation, Bally’s and IGT also agreed to raise the minimum wage for their Rhode Island employees to $13 per hour by the start of 2022, $14 per hour by January 2023, and $15 per hour by January 2024.
An upfront payment to the state will increase from $25m to $27m, while IGT’s financial commitment in Rhode Island will be set at $155m. Both IGT and Bally’s also agreed to keep headquarters in the state capital of Providence until at least 2043.
In addition, a commitment to funding problem gambling schemes will be increased from a minimum of $125,000 to at least $200,000.
“The legislation increases revenue to our state and preserves critical jobs,” Speaker Joseph Shekarchi said. “Along with the Senate, we have taken several steps to enhance the legislation on behalf of the taxpayers.”
Senate President Ruggerio added: “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.”
This week, the Rhode Island Lottery revealed sports betting revenue in the state amounted to $3.2m in April, while handle reached $29.0m during the month.
Revenue was 11,472.0% higher than the $27,381 generated in the same month last year, but the 2020 figures were severely impacted by novel coronavirus (Covid-19).