New Rhode Island Bill Seeks Payments for Casino Host Cities

New Rhode Island bill 2021-H 6355

A new measure in Rhode Island would give an annual payment to casino host towns like Tiverton and Lincoln.

Each state that offers casino gaming in the US has its own rules and regulations. As part of the legal details, many jurisdictions have payment plans set up for host towns as well as counties. To be able to offer casino gaming in the given region, the operator must pay a fee or tax rate to the local community. In Rhode Island, a new bill was just introduced that would guarantee such towns in the state are given a minimum of $3 million annually from casino operators.

The New Measure

Representative John G. Edwards introduced 2021-H 6355 recently, seeking to provide Tiverton and Lincoln with additional funds to help the cities as they play host to the Twin River casinos. The legislation would set up annual payments to the host cities and ensure that payments are made even if the venues are not operational all of the year.

Edwards is a representative of Tiverton who is also the Majority Floor Manager of the House of Representatives. In his position, he introduced the legislation on behalf of Tiverton so the town could receive compensation for hosting casino gaming.

If the legislation is passed into law, the Twin River casinos would have to pay both cities $3 million or more as the host. The stipulation that the operator must pay for a full year no matter what comes after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edwards said in a statement that last year, Tiverton did not receive its full stipend because the casino was closed. The amount due was not addressed based on a prorated payment. The current law allows a casino to close for one day and the town loses a portion of its payment.

The new bill by the Rep would close any loopholes. Both towns have to face costs as the host city, so they should be well compensated, according to Edwards. He has support too. The measure has nine more sponsors from within the House.

It makes sense to close the loopholes, but could casinos like the Twin River properties afford to pay if they are closed for a long period of time, as they were during the pandemic? It seems in such circumstances that the inability to pay would be a given.

Will the Pandemic Change the Way the Industry Operates?

It is important to consider the effect of the pandemic on the gaming industry and if it will change the way the industry operates in the future? Last year, casinos across the United States shut down for weeks and months at a time due to the onset of the coronavirus. Operations were changed once reopening was allowed with restrictions in place such as mask-wearing and socially distancing.

Will other states consider such legislation to ensure that host cities or communities receive their rightful compensation based on current laws if such an incident such occur again? Several states have sought to legalize a form of online gambling as it provides a sense of security and ongoing revenues if casinos were forced to shut down again as they did when the pandemic hit.

Overall, the pandemic has changed the industry and is a consideration when lawmakers are attempting any type of change to the industry. It will be interesting to see if the bill in Rhode Island will move forward or if the Twin River casinos will attempt to push back based on the large amount, they would have to pay the host cities due to the bill language.

Only time will tell if the measure has enough support to continue moving forward and will be passed into law.

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