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It didn’t come without controversy, but IGT will remain Rhode Island’s exclusive supplier of lottery products and services.
In 2020, Twin River Holdings (now Bally’s) called out the IGT and Rhode Island contract extension and demanded a study. Twin River owns and operates the state’s two retail casinos on behalf of the state lottery.
Twin Rivers’ issue at the time was that IGT machines took up 85% of the floor space in addition to being the sports betting kiosk vendor at these casinos. Though the brick and mortar casinos were essential part to both parties’ business, they weren’t getting equal control or pay.
Despite Twin Rivers’ objections, the extension went to the Rhode Island State House in March 2021. In June, that led to Governor Dan McKee signing a 20 year no-bid lottery deal which served as a compromise between the two companies.
Per the terms of the deal, IGT committed to employing 1100 people in the state, investing $155 million in technology upgrades, and partnering with Bally’s on a $100 million expansion of the Twin River Lincoln Casino.
After receiving the Governor’s approval, the last procedural step was to sign the deal with the Rhode Island Lottery itself. That happened on Feb 25.
With the 20 year contract extension, IGT has committed to bettering their systems in Rhode Island.
IGT will replace the central system for Rhode Island’s draw lotteries will its Aurora product. All related lottery terminals and telecommunications equipment will be replaced as well by the end of the year.
In the shorter term, the iLottery will see upgrades next year. IGT promises additional convenience for players, a user-friendly portal and mobile solutions with engaging content.
2025 will see IGT replacing the Lottery’s video lottery central systems. The replacement will connect all the systems at both casinos – Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and the Tiverton Casino Hotel. IGT claims this will make the machines more reliable and secure.
IGT has also committed to further improvements on all these fronts after 10 years. The second round of upgrades will take place from 2033 through 2035.
Instant lottery tickets won’t see much immediate change, but IGT will be incorporating some of their brands into ticket designs over time.
In a statement about the final contract signing, IGT COO for Global Lottery Jay Gendron commented:
“IGT’s history is rooted in Rhode Island as the Company is one of its most successful high-tech startups, with the Rhode Island Lottery being our very first customer. IGT’s good jobs and great people are the foundation of our success and one of the reasons why we have been able to support the Lottery in its continued evolution throughout our decades-long partnership. Over the next 20 years, we are committed to delivering unrivaled gaming experiences that engage players and drive maximum growth for Rhode Island’s third-largest revenue stream.”
IGT may have trouble meeting its responsibility to keep 1,100 Rhode Islanders employed. That’s a 10% increase over its commitment in the prior contract, which it didn’t quite meet either.
A week after the company signed the extension, it came out that IGT had failed in those prior obligations. It had promised to employ 1000 people, and fell short of that with an average of 970.8 full time employees over the contract period. IGT has agreed to pay Rhode Island $219,000 for not meeting the standards of their contract.
The amount of the penalty seems minimal, so IGT may not mind missing again. On the other hand, the expansion of Twin River Lincoln may help it get there regardless.
It’s an interesting turn of events that IGT has teamed up with Bally’s. Their earlier feud had led to the removal of some IGT machines from Bally’s casino floors. It could even have scuttled the whole contract. That all seems to be water under the bridge now.
IGT is now involved in a joint venture with Bally’s, whereby the two will be the exclusive providers of VLTs for the Lottery.
That improved relationship may extend to other parts of the country. Bally’s first online casino went live in New Jersey recently and their games catalog includes a lot of IGT titles. These include two of the four games Bally Casino promotes under its “Most Popular” heading: Cleopatra and Wheel of Fortune: Triple Extreme Spin.
IGT seems committed to Rhode Island and the state lottery seems to have faith in the company. It will be interesting to see what sorts of upgrades they make to their mobile solutions and content. In the meantime, it appears they’re staying busy in other areas of business and maintaining their relevance throughout the state.