Twin River bankruptcy case closes

Despite his frustration over public statements made by the owners of Twin River, the Lincoln, R.I., slots parlor, a federal judge has officially closed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case the facility's former owners opened in 2009.

In a decision filed Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Providence, Judge Arthur Votolato acknowledged "the futility of trying to alter or influence problematic conduct by imposing monetary sanctions against persons or entities who would suffer little discomfort, and certainly no pain from such an order."

Votolato had chastised Twin River owners in June for making conflicting statements about the slots parlor's financial stability and their "new need for table games as a condition of their future viability."

After emerging from bankruptcy protection under a reorganization plan approved last year, Twin River's new owners told state officials they would need to expand the facility's offerings to stay competitive. On more than one occasion, Twin River officials warned that Massachusetts' likely approval of resort casinos would have a devastating impact on Twin River.

Votolato, in a June 28 order, said the owners' public statements were at odds with those they had made earlier before the court, a charge the owners disputed. "I do not intend to raise the ante by engaging in a point by point war of words with the Debtors ", Votolato wrote in his latest order.

The reorganization plan enabled Twin River to cut a debt of nearly $600 million in half.

"We're grateful for the thorough review by the court and obviously pleased to have all of this behind us," Patti Doyle, a Twin River spokeswoman, said Friday in an email response.

The Rhode Island legislature has approved a bill calling for a statewide referendum next year on whether Twin River should be allowed to convert to a full-scale casino, a measure the Narragansett Indian Tribe has asked a state court to declare unconstitutional, according to The Providence Journal. The tribe says the privately owned Twin River is not being held to the same legal standard.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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