Twin River Spending Millions with Out-of-State Firms to Build Hotel

Friday, April 14, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team and Kate Nagle

TV campaign to promote Twin River's expansion in 2012.
Twin River Casino is using an out-of-state architectural firm for its new hotel in Lincoln, as well as out-of-state consultants to do structural and electrical engineering work, a GoLocal investigation has found.

According to documents obtained by GoLocal, Twin River is using out-of-state vendors for the new hotel in Lincoln - Connecticut-based architect JCJ, who is using structural (Classic Engineering) and electrical (WPF Engineering) firms from Michigan, and a "low-voltage" engineering firm (Network Technologies) from Georgia.

"This state should demand an explanation and seriously consider re-negotiating its relationships with Twin River," said URI Professor of Economics Len Lardaro. 

The Lincoln gaming facility went from a slots parlor to a full-fledged gambling facility following a statewide bond referendum in 2012, with the promise of "jobs and revenue" - and received approval from the Rhode Island General Assembly in 2015 to build a hotel on the property. 

Rendering of hotel, JCJ Architects
Latest at Twin River

The Rhode Island General Assembly touted the money being spent - and jobs being created - by Twin River, when the hotel was approved in April 2015 for Lincoln. 

"Casino officials say the hotel will be built in the modest style of a Courtyard Marriott or Hampton Inn. Cost of building the hotel is estimated at between $30 million and $35 million, with construction taking about a year. The...hotel is expected to create about 200 temporary construction jobs and 100 full-time jobs, casino officials have said," touted the Rhode Island House of Representatives press office at the time. 

Similarly, Governor Gina Raimondo supported the legislation shortly thereafter. 

"As our neighboring states look to draw revenue and economic development away from Rhode Island, we need to examine every possible way to remain competitive and create more economic opportunities here in Rhode Island," said Raimondo.

Taxpayer groups, however, questioned the casino's decision to go out-of-state for vendors -- and jobs -- given the promise of "economic opportunities" - for Rhode Islanders.

"As if our state's failed corporate-welfare strategy isn't bad enough, it is a further hit on taxpayers that our lawmakers have not been wise enough to at least include a 'Rhode Island first' provision as a condition for these overly-generous handouts," said Mike Stenhouse with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. 

"If 'jobs' truly is the goal, it's time to smarten up and put the interests of Ocean State businesses and families as the paramount consideration to everything we do," added Stenhouse.

Jobs for Rhode Island
Defending Decision

Twin River's spokeswoman defending the casino's choices for vendors. 

"There will be many Rhode Island companies working on the project. To look at engineering firms only would be to look at just one piece of the project. In fact, the general contractor, Excell Corporation, is a Rhode Island firm based in East Greenwich," said spokeswoman Patti Doyle.

"JCJ has a long history of excellence with Twin River. They were involved in the 2007 complete renovation and later, the table game expansion, to name a few. They have deep knowledge of the property which is critically important from both a quality of work and cost saving perspective," added Doyle.

"We'll announce the construction schedule shortly, and we do not disclose costs to date," added Doyle.


 

  • Jobs

    No Tiverton Casino Claims:

    FEWER JOBS Most of the 600 “well-paying” jobs Twin River promises are low-paying, part-time or temporary. The average income touted is for certain positions only, with benefits and tips (not predictable) representing well over 30% of it. In addition, existing Newport Grand employees will move into those jobs, and Twin River is now off the hook for paying Sunday overtime, meaning even lower earnings.

    Twin River's Response:

    The average salary at Twin River is $56,000 inclusive of tips and benefits. We have learned that some of our colleagues prefer to work part time which is why we offer a mix of full and part time.
    The decision not to offer time and half on Sundays was brought to us by the unions on behalf of their employees which we supported.

     

     
  • Taxes

    No Tiverton Casino Claims:

    NO TAX RELIEF Despite promises, Lincoln has seen virtually no tax relief since it voted for a new Twin River facility in 2012. In fact, Lincoln’s $21.60 tax rate is 12.9% higher than Tiverton's $19.14, and Lincoln's commercial tax rate is a whopping 38% higher! Furthermore, Twin River’s revenue projections for Tiverton already fall short by $1 million. The State of Rhode Island pledges to cover the difference – with YOUR TAX DOLLARS! 

    Twin River's Response:

    Twin River pays for police and fire detail officers during all hours of operation to supplement security within the facility and respond to calls for service.  According to Joseph Almond, town administrator, the town of Lincoln has not had the need to hire any additional police officers or fire/medics in conjunction with the Twin River operation.  Further, the Administrator confirmed that there has been no corresponding impact on the crime rate or calls for service within the community. 
    In 2015, Twin River paid to the town of Lincoln $3.8 million in property and other taxes and an additional $7.8 million from gaming revenues, making it the second largest taxpayer in Lincoln. Of Twin River's $11.6 million total contribution, $9 million supports the municipal and school department operating budgets.  This represents about 10 percent of the town's annual budget.
    The Town's tax Assessment records support the finding that there has been no negative impact on residential property values in the vicinity of the twin River Casino.  Further, the town's remaining business community has shown no evidence of cannibalization of revenues and the town is experiencing an increasingly vibrant business climate.

     

     
  • Crime

    No Tiverton Casino Claims:

    MORE CRIME Countless newspaper, television and government reports reveal excessive criminal activity directly related to casinos. Larceny, muggings, vandalism, petty theft, embezzlement, shootings, property crime and aggravated assaults are just a few of the highlights. Twin River’s recent crime spree has included most of these. Do you know what community crime does to your insurance rates? 

    Twin River's Response:

    Last year, there were 1,431 incident calls, not 1,431 emergency calls. If we break down the 4 calls on average per day, approximately 2.5 - 3 of them are general reporting or daily log-incalls that might include such activity as dress code violations, self-exclude violations, touching the chips on the table and/or a guest becoming a bit too boisterous.

    Those calls - the vast majority - are handled by Twin River security personnel and the on - site Lincoln Police Department personnel which Twin River pays for.

    The remaining on average 1 to 1.5 calls per day may produce an incident report and a request for off- site Lincoln Police to come to the property and those incidents might include a fender bender in the parking lot, petty theft and medical emergencies.

    Since 2007, when Twin River underwent an extensive renovation and increased its footprint, not a single police officer has been added to the Lincoln Police Department.

    It bears underscoring that Twin River is four times the size of the proposed Tiverton Casino.

     
  • Town Resources

    No Tiverton Casino Claims:

    RESOURCE BURDENS In 2015 alone, Lincoln’s protection services departments received over 1600 calls directly related to incidents at Twin River -- 1,431 emergency police department calls and 222 emergency fire department calls. The Tiverton Police Department, with current staff, will be overburdened with even a small percentage of this activity. 

    Twin River's Response:​

    Since 2007, when Twin River underwent an extensive renovation and increased its footprint, not a single police officer has been added to the Lincoln Police Department.

    It bears underscoring that Twin River is four times the size of the proposed Tiverton Casino.

     
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