Published: May 22, 2018

Lottery giant IGT is sole bidder to run sports betting in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — IGT, the company that runs Rhode Island’s electronic lottery systems, is the sole bidder for a contract to run the state’s proposed foray into sports betting.

The Lottery issued a request for proposals on the sports betting contract last month and although 18 firms participated in a pre-bid conference on the contract, the Providence-based company formerly known as GTECH was the only one to submit a bid by last Friday’s deadline, the R.I. Lottery announced Monday.

“We would have preferred more bidders,” Lottery spokesman Paul Grimaldi said in an email about the response. “18 companies expressed an interest in the RFP. We’re not going to speculate as to why more bids weren’t submitted.”

Asked whether the contract could be rebid, Grimaldi said the IGT proposal has been turned over to the Lottery’s “Technical Review Committee” to see whether it meets basic requirements.

“The bid could be rejected if a flaw(s) is discovered in the submission,” Grimaldi wrote. “We will consider our options at that point.”

The Lottery Monday did not make the IGT bid public.

Angela Wiczek, spokeswoman for IGT, said the company would not comment on a pending bid.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ban on states legalizing sports gambling, setting off a rush in Rhode Island and across the country to capitalize on a potentially lucrative new source of revenue.

Anticipating the ruling, Gov. Gina Raimondo in January proposed setting up state-controlled sports books at Twin River’s casino in Lincoln and the soon-to-open casino in Tiverton. Under the plan, Twin River employees would take the bets, and the new contractor would set odds and run the technology system facilitating the wagers.

The budget estimates $23.5 million in new state revenue on around $800 million in total wagers.

But the scope of Rhode Island sports betting could expand beyond betting at the two casinos. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has said he supports eventual expansion into multiple “satellite” betting parlors and ultimately online wagering.

The RFP asks the bidder to “demonstrate in their proposals their capability to readily adapt to any future additions to authorized sports betting.”

“Bidders are encouraged to not only submit proposals and bids on sports betting at the Twin River Gaming Facility and the Tiverton Gaming Facility but also to separately provide proposals and bids that include multiple options to implement other types of sports betting in Rhode Island, if later authorized by the state including innovative and cutting edge options available as sports betting technology grows,” The RFP said.

In recent hearings before lawmakers on the sports gambling proposal, Lottery officials said many of the details of Rhode Island’s sports betting business would depend on proposals from venders.

That would include what share of the winnings would go to the company, state and potentially Twin River.

IGT made $53 million providing equipment and gaming services to the Rhode Island last year and was in close contact with Lottery officials in the past six months as anticipation of a favorable Supreme Court ruling grew.

Scott Gunn, a senior vice president at IGT, told Lottery officials and others in the gaming industry last fall that he believed Rhode Island voters had already tacitly authorized sports betting.

He also provided running updates on legislation across the country and referred the Lottery to adviser Ludovico Calvi, a former executive to IGT’s Italian affiliate for advice.

Among the participants in the April 24 pre-bid conference on the sports betting RFP, in addition to IGT, were representatives of MGM Resorts International, Greek lottery company Intralot, daily fantasy sports site Draftkings and former House Speaker John Harwood (listed as a “public citizen.”)

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