Casino operator Twin River Worldwide Holdings is dealing with fresh controversy after one of its senior execs was charged with bribery.
On Tuesday, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office announced it had filed multiple charges of accepting bribes and ‘casino gaming crimes’ against Michael Barlow, senior VP of operations at Twin River, which operates Rhode Island’s two casinos on behalf of the state government.
Attorney General Peter Neronha said a grand jury had returned an indictment on December 12 that included 30 felony counts against Barlow (pictured) and two other individuals, casino vendor Yehuda Amar and Amar’s business associate Jill Feldman.
Amar is accused of making payments to Barlow – who began his tenure with Twin River in 2006 – to secure subleases with multiple food court vendors at Twin River casino properties, as well as securing multiple business contracts.
Barlow and Amar were partners in several residential and commercial properties in Connecticut, which resulted in Barlow incurring $340k in debt to Amar. To service these debts, Barlow allegedly steered vendors and contracts to Amar, who “significantly” profited from these transactions.
Amar and Feldman allegedly failed to file corporate tax returns in the state from 2016-2018, while also failing to report business income and filing fraudulent personal income tax returns.
Barlow, whose home was searched by police in June, is facing four counts of accepting a bribe, three counts of obtaining property under false pretenses, three counts of conspiracy to obtain property under false pretenses, and two counts of casino gaming crimes/providing false information. Barlow was arraigned on Tuesday before being released on $20k bail.
Twin River issued a statement saying it had “cooperated fully” with state authorities in their investigation while noting that “the one employee involved in this non-gaming matter is no longer employed by the company.”
Twin River is currently embroiled in a dispute with Rhode Island over the state awarding International Game Technology (IGT) a 20-year extension on its contract to run the state lottery and supply the bulk of the electronic gaming machines on the state’s casino floors. Questions surrounding the contract extension have led to a probe by the state’s Ethics Commission.
In October, Twin River teamed up with IGT rivals Scientific Games Corporation, Intralot and UK National Lottery operator Camelot on a joint venture bid for the state lottery contract.
Earlier this month, Twin River chairman John Taylor announced he was leaving the company after 10 years as chairman. Soohyung Kim, founding partner of major Twin River investor Standard General L.P., was named Taylor’s replacement.