Providence, Rhode Island-based International Game Technology (IGT) has announced that it has extended its contract with the Rhode Island Lottery (RIL) to provide sports betting technology to the state for another three years.
IGT was formerly based in Las Vegas Nevada, but a successful acquisition by GTECH, formed in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, and later merged with Italian lottery giant and online game supplier Lottomatica/Spielo/GTECH saw the company assume its base of operations in the parent company’s home state and relinquish the legendary brand name along with all other acquired assets.
IGT Playsports Tech with William Hill Operations are a Good Match for Rhode Island
The extended contract with RIL will see IGT continue to seamlessly power sports betting in the state through the lottery with its IGT PlaySports solution along with its commercial partner William Hill US.
Bettors inside the state’s borders can continue to use the RIL Sportsbook Rhode Island app as well as access the sportsbooks at Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel and Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort.
Bally’s recently introduced a model to the state legislature there to create legislation that would allow the company to offer online casino games statewide via servers located at the two casinos. Online casino games and execution would be managed through the RIL, according to the plan.
Rhode Island Lottery director, Mark Furcolo talked about the extended contract and mentioned how happy the agency has been with the non-lapsed agreement over the last half-decade. He made particular note of William Hill’s operational experience working in concert with the world-class IGT technology.
“IGT recently invested significant resources to enhance our sports betting platform and mobile app […]
to maximize revenue and offer a solution that remains competitive among neighboring states
,” said the director.
Joe Asher, IGT’s president of Sports Betting commented that Rhode Island was “one of the early adopters [of newly legalized state-level sports betting]
in the post-PASPA era.”
He noted that the state was a pioneer in adapting to it in 2018. Asher said that IGT is happy “to continue driving Rhode Island’s sports betting growth.”
“Rhode Island is home to very loyal sports fans who love following their New England-based teams.” He added inter alia: “Enhancements IGT has made to the Lottery’s sports betting platform and app [will help]
provide fans with a convenient and intuitive player experience [and provide the state with]
strong returns that support the Lottery’s commitment to generating revenue for good causes
IGT is the exclusive supplier of lottery solutions such as traditional lottery, instant win tickets, video lottery terminals (casino “slots”), and internet lottery games in the state. That contract was recently extended until 2043 guaranteeing IGT exclusive rights to provide those games and services for another 20 years.
IGT Cut Through the Fog of Four Administrations to Clear other Ground
On an unrelated note, IGT recently sued the Department of Justice in US District Court in Rhode Island seeking a final answer one way or another (Declaratory Judgement) on whether the Wire Act of 1961 applied to interstate lottery business or anything else other than sportsbetting. The court declared that it applies only to sportsbetting, which would seem to have opened the door to cross-border online casino games in every state, but the ruling came with a cryptic caveat.
In the Motion for Summary Judgment the court held that “as to the parties now before it, the Wire Act applies only to ‘bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest,’ leaving an unhealed wound on the gaming industry that has been open since the last Bush administration.
The Bush DOJ said all state-to-state and offshore online gambling not specifically carved out, such as horse race betting in the US, was illegal.
The Obama administration’s Office of Legal Counsel (DoJ) issued an opinion stating that the law only affected sports betting “over the wires”.
The Sessions DOJ under former President Trump reversed that opinion and proceeded with threats of prosecution against lottery operators who sold online products within their own state but whose traffic flowed through servers in other states.
Finally, the Biden administration made its position clear by not defending or prosecuting lawsuits originating in the previous administration. However, the Garland DOJ did attempt to have the recent IGT suit dismissed stating in its filing: “ [The] threat of future prosecutions [is]
too speculative an injury to confer Article III standing.
Earlier IGT Legal Action Could Become Catalyst
Further off the beaten path, it may be of interest that the decision could have facilitated a radical change in the business direction of the world’s biggest lottery company based on total combined wagers. IGT has annual revenue of circa $4.2 billion. As an “end to end” game company it manages about $30 billion in global lottery business each year
Interestingly, the former CEO of IGT’s International Interactive division announced last year that his new firm Games Global Ltd had acquired most of the assets of Microgaming Systems – one of the biggest online gambling companies in the world and players in the game since the 1990s.
A negative outcome in the Rhode Island lawsuit could have given IGT the direction in regulatory compliance they needed to protect existing assets in US internet markets. The positive decision could have given Microgaming (Games Global) and other international and offshore operators an opening to re-enter the US market that they abandoned following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2016. That law focused on making payment processing a crime to “illegal online casinos” which were never “illegal” in the first place.
However, the law and its “guidance” impedes and punish US financial institutions rather than addressing the legality of online gambling itself. Without cooperation from US payment processors, interstate and offshore online gambling on the operator’s end can only be accomplished in violation of other laws, specifically “money laundering”. This “catch-22” is most likely what has stopped any current offshore operators from promoting their games and casinos in the US market after the ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Said “Guidance” can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website as well as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) online portal (.PDF).
There is currently no known legal reason why US-based operators have not taken the leap to launch nationwide online casinos, save that single cryptic caveat: “…as to the parties now before it”.
Source: IGT Extends Sports Betting Contract with the Rhode Island Lottery, iGaming News, April 10, 2023