Twin River Worldwide, which operates the only two casinos in Rhode Island, is concerned that the new Encore Boston Harbor resort about to be opened in Massachusetts could poach some of its business. The Wynn Resorts property is scheduled to open its doors later this month and the venue’s proximity to Rhode Island – a little more than an hour’s drive – could have a negative impact on the operations. In order to ensure it remains liquid, Twin River wants to increase its marketing efforts and expects Rhode Island to make it possible by reducing some of its tax liabilities and limitations.
A bill being considered by Rhode Island lawmakers would allow Twin River to spend more on marketing by increasing what it is able to claim on marketing tax deductions. The legislation was introduced by Senators Dominick Ruggerio and Maryellen Goodwin last month and would allow the company to recuperate up to $1.4 million on its Tiverton property as long is gambling operator spent about $2.9 million on marketing. The increase is about $860,000 more per year than what it can recover currently.
During a Senate hearing held this past Monday, Twin River Adi Dhandhania asserted, “We have to spend proportionately to the [slots revenues] at the location so the customers stay loyal to the location. What we are estimating is that if we don’t spend proportionate dollars like we do in Lincoln, we will see a 5 to 10 percent hit in [slots] numbers, and the state has significant tax on income.” That drop would reportedly amount to a loss of $3-6 million for the state’s coffers, according to Dhandhania.
The company also wants the state to raise the amount of credit it can provide to VIP gamblers. It currently sits at $50,000 and Twin River wants to increase it to $100,000. It has also made an odd request that it not be required to have bulletproof glass installed on teller windows, arguing that neither of its facilities has been the target of robbery by firearms in over a decade. That’s like saying a gas station doesn’t need fire extinguishers because there hasn’t been a fire in more than ten years.
Rhode Island has a leg up on Massachusetts in the gambling arena, at least for now. Massachusetts doesn’t offer sports gambling and Rhode Island does, giving it a slight edge in attracting gamblers. If Massachusetts were to open the sports gambling market, the pendulum could swing, but there’s no concrete data to indicate that Rhode Island could lose any of its business to Encore.