The fight to run Rhode Island’s lottery operations got a lot more interesting this week when UK National Lottery operator Camelot injected itself into the discussion.
On Wednesday, Camelot Lottery Solutions announced a partnership with Twin River Management Group, an offshoot of Rhode Island’s monopoly casino operator Twin River Worldwide Holdings, on a proposal to manage the operations of the Rhode Island Lottery.
This summer, Governor Gina Raimondo controversially extended International Game Technology’s lottery management contract by a further 20 years without submitting the contract to a public tender, a decision that has led to a probe by the state’s Ethics Commission.
Twin River argued that it should be allowed to bid on the lottery contract, despite having no lottery management experience. Originally, Twin River’s goal appeared to be to force a better deal with the state regarding its management of the state’s two casinos, for which IGT has a sweetheart deal to supply the bulk of slots and video lottery terminals.
Wednesday’s announcement dramatically shifts the lottery debate, as the Twin River/Camelot tandem is offering a $100m guarantee, a commitment to provide 1,100 jobs over a 12-year term, a total cost to the state of $500m – half of what IGT was expected to earn over its 20-year extension – and a commitment to build a 50k-square-foot corporate HQ in the state.
The proposal also calls for a maximum 50% share of electronic gaming machines on the casino floors for any one supplier. Twin River/Camelot say this will “stimulate increased competition” among suppliers in comparison with the 85% share currently enjoyed by IGT.
IGT chairman Robert Vincent called the rival proposal “nothing more than an attempt to distract lawmakers” ahead of the state legislature’s Thursday hearing on IGT’s contract extension, the first of five such hearings on the subject. Lawmakers aren’t expected to vote on the fate of the lottery contract until sometime next year.
Meanwhile, this week saw the official debut of Rhode Island’s mobile sports betting product, which is overseen by the state lottery. A soft launch earlier this month went sufficiently smoothly that the Department of Revenue authorized the full rollout of the Sportsbook Rhode Island app on Wednesday. Bettors are required to register their accounts in person at one of the Twin River casinos before being allowed to wager on the go.