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Simon Deloit July 26, 2019 3 min read
Deal between Rhode Island Governor and IGT Raises Questions
- Gina Raimondo extends deal between IGT and the state of Rhode Island until 2043
- State legislators submit ethics complaint against the decision
- Arguments for the deal can’t stand up to par
Raimondo and IGT Sign New Contract amid Criticism from Observers
Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island, has reportedly concluded a new deal with International Game Technology (IGT), extending the lottery support contract between the state and the company until 2043. So far, IGT has supported the lottery of the state but the single minded decision of the governor raised some questions in her House. This comes after the deal’s top lawmaker’s comments, as well as in light of the fact that the bidding process, standard to this type of arrangement, has not taken place.
The arguments made by the lady governor in defense of the lengthy extension were scrutinized by members of the local legislation up to the point of the latter submitting an ethics complaint against Raimondo for state law violation.
As of recently Twin River – a well-established casino and hotel management brand, and also former owner of a race track in the state – have presented their interest in growing the services of the Rhode Island’s state lottery. Nevertheless, the governor declined this perspective despite the fact that a bidding procedure is due.
One instance in which Raimondo presented an arguable statement was when she stated that her notion of turning down Twin River was motivated by the fact that the business is a public company managed by a hedge fund. What is easily discoverable is that International Game Technology doesn’t differ in terms of business model. Both brands accommodate hedge funds as shareholders, just as many other businesses do.
The Governor’s Arguments For
To the governor’s argument that the agreement will serve to secure many state positions, Charlene Lima – member of the House Oversight Committee – replied that another company could serve the same purpose and even increase the 1100 positions.
Lima’s straightforward stance against the governor’s independent act upon the matter may also be motivated by the reveal of the ongoing dealings between the state governor and Donald Sweitzer. The latter being the former head of the IGT, now in the midst of the Democratic Governors Association – a group headed by Raimondo.
“Do the right thing and end this special interest deal, and put it out to bid to benefit the taxpayers of Rhode Island and also to protect Rhode Island’s reputation, because this deal is being watched globally,” the Oversight Committee member said, pointing out that, at the very least, the conduct over the agreements is not transparent.
Raimondo’s decision is not the final call on the matter, though. The assignment of the next Rhode Island state lottery supporter is to be taken in consideration by the House this fall. Should the state committee decide to investigate the ethics complaint, it may be expected that at least the standard bidding procedure takes place is what follows. In any case, the results of such an investigation will not become clear for at least a few months.
Brandon Bell, the former state GOP, also emphasized that going outside of the standard bidding procedure is somewhat bothersome. That, plus Raimondo’s ongoing cooperation with Sweitzer makes for a “scary deal”, in his words.