When it comes to government positions, individuals who win the positions based on elections are to abide by certain rules and regulations. Such individuals as senators, house members and governors are to do their due diligence to ensure that the state they are employed by is cared for, including the people. One wrong move and it can mean the end of a career. In many states, decisions are made by government officials involving the gambling industry.
Several states in the US offer some form of gambling, be it casinos, the lottery or online gaming, among many others. Government officials play a role in this regard by making laws and regulations as well as deciding who will be allowed to provide such services. In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo is now being investigated for a decision she made involving the state lottery.
Governor Raimondo decided to allow International Game Technology to be in control of the state lottery as well as the majority of their video gaming operations. The Ethics Commission of the state has now started an investigation into the agreement. The decision made by the governor gave IGT an extension of their existing contract, consisting of a 20 year time frame.
The deal is reportedly worth $1 billion and would extend the ability of the company to manage the operations of the state for two decades. The company has been a supporter of the governor for five years now and apparently some think that the deal was made due to their involvement with Raimondo’s political goals.
Gaming companies as well as republican lawmakers are not happy with the deal. Several have called for the investigation since July and the commission decided to run with it. Lawmakers are happy that the deal will be investigated, looking in to the special treatment they feel IGT was given by the governor.
Raimondo has ties to the company in several ways. IGT has supported her political campaign and she is connected by the Democratic Governors Association. Raimondo leads the organization and Donald Sweitzer, an IGT lobbyist, is part of this association. Sweitzer has been the chairman of IGT Global Solutions company for 20 years now.
Part of the problem with the new deal is the governor did not allow for any other gaming company to vie for the position. Scientific Games and Twin River would have wanted to try and gain the position in the state. Governor Raimondo pointed out that Twin River should not be in charge of the operations due to their being backed by a hedge fund, it only brought more attention to her ways as IGT is backed by hedge funds as well.
The whole situation seems to be a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ scenario. The governor is being accused of giving IGT the contract due to their help with her campaign. IGT will reportedly pay the state $25 million for the extension and bring in an additional $150 million via projects that remain unspecified. The lottery system in the state as well as slot options will receive an upgrade and residents who work in the area will remain in their positions.
It will certainly be interesting to see where this goes from here. Will the deal prove to be shady from the start? Or was the deal created in good faith and will see IGT hold on their multi-year contract with the state?