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Gambling companies announce partnership in Rhode Island

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The two, sometimes feuding companies with state gambling contracts in Rhode Island announced a collaboration Thursday they say will maintain the state's gambling revenue, enhance competitiveness with Massachusetts and Connecticut, and keep jobs in the state. 

The announcement from Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc. and IGT includes a $100 million renovation and expansion of Twin River's Lincoln casino and the joint creation of a new company to supply video lottery terminals, including slot machines and other electronic games, to the state.

IGT will have a controlling 60% stake in the new company with Twin River owning the remaining 40%.

The deal “will harness the strongest attributes of each company to better serve Rhode Island taxpayers, to preserve valuable jobs and to make meaningful infrastructure improvements at the gambling facilities," Jay Gendron, IGT's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The Rhode Island Division of Lotteries will continue to maintain oversight and regulation of all gambling in the state. Gambling, at two casinos and the lottery, generated nearly $400 million in revenue for the state in the 2019 fiscal year.

The deal hinges on the approval of lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“The governor’s priority all along has been protecting Rhode Island’s jobs, protecting our revenue, and guaranteeing high-quality gaming services for Rhode Islanders," Raimondo spokesman Josh Block said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to reviewing this new proposal as it makes its way through the legislative process.”

Two top state lawmakers, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, both Democrats, praised the proposals, saying they would benefit all Rhode Islanders.

Both pledged “full and thorough” public review of the proposal and accompanying legislation.

“The state’s taxpayers will be the ultimate beneficiaries of a successful economic development partnership that maintains good jobs while protecting and hopefully enhancing an important state revenue stream," Ruggerio said in a statement.

IGT will also continue to seek approval for legislation authorizing Raimondo to extend its lottery contract through 2043, something Twin River had opposed, saying the contract should be put out for bid. If approved, the contract extension would keep 1,100 jobs in the state.

In addition, Twin River said it would seek to permanently establish it headquarters in Providence. It currently leases space in the city.

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