Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has defended her decision to extend the state lottery’s contract with International Game Technology (IGT) without a tender process, arguing that the move would protect jobs in the state.
Raimondo faced questions about the state’s 20-year, $1 billion contract extension IGT as she testified in front of a special meeting of the state House Committee on Finance on House Bill 6266, the bill that extends the IGT lottery contract.
She argued the deal would ensure that jobs and revenue stayed in the state, after IGT said it could not guarantee it will maintain its 1,100 staff in Rhode Island if the contract was not extended.
“I think the proposal represents an exciting opportunity for Rhode Island,” Raimondo said. “It’s an opportunity to protect jobs, over a thousand good-paying jobs, an opportunity to protect Rhode Island’s revenue, it’s the third-largest source of our revenue and an opportunity to improve the gaming services and offerings available to Rhode Islanders.”
Raimondo said that a bidding process did not take place because IGT’s status as a Rhode Island-based company made in an obvious choice for the contract.
“There are only three companies in the country capable of operating the lottery. Only one of them was founded in Rhode Island, has 1,000 jobs in Rhode Island, and is right outside this building,” Raimondo added. “I say we should keep the work local whenever we can.”
The controversial no-bid deal has been opposed by Twin River, which operates two casinos in the state, and its partner Camelot Lottery Solutions, who submitted a proposal for a 12-year contract which it said would provide 1,100 jobs earlier this month. On Sunday, Twin River took out an advertisement in the Providence Journal criticizing the IGT deal.
“The Governor cannot side step Rhode Island’s purchasing law. She cannot enter into a no-bid contract without a vote of the Rhode Island House and Senate,” the advertisement said.
House Bill 6266 was introduced in June and was sponsored by five Democratic Party legislators.
The hearings regarding the bill to extend the contract will continue on 3 October and will include public testimony, including testimony from an IGT representative.
In July, the Rhode Island Republican Party filed an ethics complaint against Raimondo over the IGT contract, prompting the state’s Ethics Commission to launch an investigation into the move.