No deal yet on extra $2 million Raimondo wants from Twin River

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island officials are still working to convince executives at Twin River Casino to fork over an extra $2 million to help plug a hole in this year’s state budget.

A plan put forward by Gov. Gina Raimondo to close a roughly $60 million budget shortfall already includes the hoped-for payment from Twin River. Department of Revenue Director Mark Furcolo said the payment was needed because the opening of the company’s new Tiverton casino has been delayed from July to October, depriving the state of three months of gambling revenue there.

The demand for $2 million appeared to catch Twin River’s leaders by surprise, and they have not yet agreed to the payment.

“We’ve had conceptual conversations about it, but nothing has been finalized,” Twin River spokeswoman Patti Doyle said. She declined to comment on the substance of the negotiations.

“The two sides continue talking,” Department of Revenue spokesman Paul Grimaldi said. “The partnership remains good and cooperative.” He declined to say what if any strings might be attached to the money.

Gambling has grown into one of the largest sources of revenue for Rhode Island’s state budget, projected to account for $367 million in funding this fiscal year and $363.6 million in 2018-19. More than 80% of that money comes from casinos, with the remainder from traditional games like scratch tickets, PowerBall and Keno.

As for the Tiverton casino, Doyle said construction continues and it remains on track to open Oct. 1.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook