House passes amended legislation
strengthening IGT/Bally’s agreement
STATE HOUSE – Amended legislation to strengthen the agreement between the State of Rhode Island and IGT and Twin River, now Bally’s Corporation, was approved by the House of Representatives today on a vote of 60 to 11.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where companion legislation (2021-S 0040) sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
H 5223 Sub A as amended is an economic development investment of more than $250 million to preserve and enhance Rhode Island’s third largest source of revenue.
“The legislation increases revenue to our state and preserves critical jobs,” said Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick). “Along with the Senate, we have taken several steps to enhance the legislation on behalf of the taxpayers. I thank Senate President Ruggerio, who played a critical role in bringing the two companies together.”
At the request of House and Senate Leadership, key changes were added to the amended version of the legislation, including:
· The upfront payment to the state will increase from $25 million to $27 million.
· Bally’s will accelerate job creation at its corporate headquarters and will meet the 30 new jobs requirement as set forth in the legislation by December 31, 2022.
· Bally’s will increase its commitment to the I-195 Commission for park renaming rights to $250,000 in the first year, $150,000 in the second year, and $100,000 thereafter, for a total increased commitment of $200,000.
· The IGT financial commitment has increased from $150 million to $155 million.
· The footprint for Bally’s commercial space in Providence has increased from 12,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet.
· Increased liquidated damages for any missed jobs count from $6,400 to $7,500 per job for both companies.
· The commitment to problem gambling was increased from a minimum of $125,000 to a minimum of $200,000
Although not contained in the legislation, Bally’s and IGT have agreed to raise the minimum wage for its Rhode Island employees to $13 per hour by January 1, 2022; $14 per hour by January 1, 2023; and $15 per hour by January 1, 2024.
Bally’s has also agreed to open an additional Rhode Island office, outside the City of Providence, to hire a minimum of 30 Information Technology professionals. Also, IGT’s commitment to a STEM scholarship fund in Rhode Island schools will be increased from $25,000 to $35,000 per year.
The bill continues to include the following components contained within the legislation introduced earlier this year, including:
· IGT will add 100 new jobs, increasing the minimum number of jobs from 1,000 to 1,100.
· The aggregate payroll must now equate to 250% of minimum wage. At a $15 minimum wage, the total guaranteed payroll would be $85 million per year.
· It provides a penalty against IGT for failure to meet employment levels.
· Bally’s will add 30 new jobs, with the same requirements and penalties as IGT.
· Bally’s will invest $100 million, including a 50,000 square foot expansion to its facility in Lincoln.
· IGT and Bally’s must maintain headquarters in Providence through 2043.
· The two companies will make various investments that will result in the creation of a joint venture with IGT having a controlling 60% stake in the new company and Twin River owning the remaining 40%. The joint venture will be a licensed VLT provider and supply the entirety of the gaming machines to the Lottery. IGT-manufactured machines and multiple other manufacturers will supply the floor that will continue to be managed by an efficiency rating system.
· A minimum annual replacement cycle will be set at 6% with flexibility to replace up to 8% in any year.
· At least 5% of the VLTs will be the highly popular premium machines to keep the gaming offering on par with regional competitors.
The Rhode Island Division of Lotteries will continue to maintain oversight and regulation of all gaming. All aspects of the lottery and gaming programs will continue to be state-operated.
In addition, the amended legislation has been named the Marc A. Crisafulli Economic Development Act to honor the executive vice president of Bally’s, who is battling cancer.
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