NEW BEGINNING AT TWIN RIVER
Lincoln casino announces new name, breaks ground on $100M expansion
LINCOLN – State officials, Twin River Casino representatives, local leaders and members of the organizations set to construct it, kickedoff a $100 million renovation project at the state’s premiere gambling revenue operation with a traditional toss of gravel for its ground-breaking on Thursday.
The event outside Twin River’s existing two-story casino, entertainment and restaurant facility at the former Lincoln Downs and Lincoln Greyhound track property included the Bally’s Corporation move to rename its Lincoln casino, Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort, and it’s smaller Rhode Island gambling outlet in Tiverton as Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel.
The rebranding is part of an overall upgrade of Bally’s Rhode Island operations highlighted by Twin River’s transformation with a new 40,000-squarefoot single-story additional to the existing casino for relocation of gaming now on the second floor as well as a 10,000-square-foot addition to the existing 4,000-square-foot health and wellness spa in Twin River’s hotel. That phase of the project, creating a new Korean-style spa, will also construct a new porte-cochere entranceway to hotel and spa.
While noting the gambling property’s beginnings as a thoroughbred horse racing track in 1947 and later greyhound venue and then casino operations, Craig Sculos, Twin River vice president, general manager, opened his role as master of ceremonies by noting “we’re respectful of that past, but we are not beholding to it.
“We move forward, we improve, we’re not running to stand still,” Sculos
“To borrow from the great Frank Sinatra, the best is yet to come,” Sculos added.
Bally’s Corporation, Twin River’s parent corporation, would continue to “expand upon its commitment as a leading regional casino entertainment operator with an omni-channel platform—
online sports betting, live gaming – it is a dynamic growing company with 14 casinos spread across ten states as well as horse track and OSB licenses within the portfolio,” Sculos said.
The company also hosts online and media gambling entities and Sculos said the Bally’s management team has “upped the ante for investment in this property, the flagship property, as well as the state of Rhode Island which is home to our corporate headquarters.”
Twin River and Tiverton President Marc Crisafulli could not attend over safety concerns after a last round of cancer treatments, but “sends us his very best, he reminds us that he is continuing to do well and he looks forward to returning his office in Providence later this fall,” Sculos said.
Crisafulli was a driving force on behalf of Bally’s behind the Marc Crisafulli Economic Development Act also supported by IGT and approved by the General Assembly that made Twin River’s expansion possible, Sculos noted.
The act calls for a $250 million economic development investment in the state’s economy and Sculos recognized Gov. Daniel J. McKee, Speaker of the House Joseph Shekarchi, and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio for supporting its passage and implementation.
“All of them, every single one of them, their leadership teams and everyone else at the General Assembly play a such a positive role for us in getting this last legislation passed and I want to thank you,” Sculos said.
The 40,000squarefoot addition, to be built by Suffolk Construction, will consolidate most of the casino’s gaming on one floor, “offer a more modern environment for our players, and free up a lot of space while adding some entertainment,” Sculos said.
With the added improvements of the spa and entrance, Sculos said “we are absolutely upgrading and enhancing the resortstyle experience of this property for all of our guests.”
The project will also include additional renovations and safety enhancements overall, he added.
Suffolk as general contractor, with the help of good weather, is expected to have the project completed in the fall of 2022.
Twin River will remain open throughout the expansion work and continue to operate.
The work is being done under a project labor agreement worked out with Michael F. Sabitoni. President of the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council, which will have the partners in the construction project “putting over 20 construction trades and their skilled workers to work on this project.
“We couldn’t be more grateful and happy to have them involved,” Sculos said.
McKee also noted Twin River’s past pointing out “it has transformed, and that’s what this is all about.
“It’s all about Rhode Island transforming itself, and it is today,” McKee said.
The state itself has transformed from last March when it had the highest COVID19 infection rates and highest death rates and lowest vaccination rates to the reverse today where “we’ve been able to get very high vaccination rates right now with the adult population in the state of Rhode Island a little over 86 percent with one shot.”
McKee said he believes the stars are now aligned for Rhode Island, “in many, many ways and all we have to do is put those pieces of the puzzle together and today we are putting a big piece of the puzzle together.”
Calling it a “significant milestone, McKee said “today the first shovels go in the ground as we kick off this $100 million investment in Rhode Island.
“I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this. Some things are in motion, when you show up as this was, because both our Senate President and our Speaker with their leadership brought this agreement to the table by working with parties that needed to be brought to the table and that happened,” McKee said.
“And those individuals who needed to put the agreement together did it. So thank you Speaker and thank you Senate President, thank you so much,” McKee added.
“We’re here today to celebrate an investment in Rhode Island, to celebrate wellpaying jobs, to celebrate tourism and also things that people come to Rhode Island to enjoy,” McKee said.
When something works, McKee noted, “You build on it.
“Bally’s is crucial to our economy, it brings our outoftowners to our state, it keeps our gaming industry competitive and employs Rhode Islanders. It only makes sense to make this investment that is being made here today,” McKee said.
“Not only are we bringing in more jobs to work inside the hotel and the spa and the gaming hall, but we’re bringing workers from over 20 construction trades together to build this project,” McKee said.
“That’s more jobs for Rhode Island, more jobs for the labor workforce, and it’s going to last over the next 12 to 14 months,” he said.
Those jobs and work would “bring money into our communities,” and that will make them stronger and schools get better, McKee said.
The state has recovered about 73 percent of the jobs it lost during the pandemic according to recent jobs numbers and sectors for construction and manufacturing have recovered all the jobs lost the economic shutdown, McKee noted.
The state now stands at about fifth from the top in economic recovery for the country, he added.
“When you look around and see representatives from private industry, from state and local government, from unions, and everyone in between, you know you have a good project that benefits Rhode Islanders,” McKee said while thanking all of those involved in Twin River’s expansion effort.
Paul Juliano, vice president of operations for Bally’s Corporation, said the groundbreaking marked “the beginning of our $100 million investment in the State of Rhode Island.”
Exterior signage will soon be replaced and the Bally Rewards Players Club program will be implemented at the casinos, he noted.
Both properties will also feature Bally’s dice, cards, gaming chips and table game layouts.
“We’re tremendously proud to bring the Bally’s iconic name and brand to Rhode Island,” Juliano said.
“This is an exciting moment for our customers as we have several new and engaging experiences planned for our Rhode Island casinos. Undoubtedly, the combined improvements we will make in our facilities and in our customer offerings will well position our Rhode Island properties to continue to play a key role in the economic prosperity of our state,” Juliano said.
During their turns before the gathering Shekarchi and Ruggerio both commended each other’s work in bringing the gaming parties, Twin River and IGT, together in working out a mutual relationship that led to the economic expansion legislation’s approval.
“I congratulate Bally’s on fulfilling this important commitment,” Shekarchi said of agreement. “The continued investment will benefit the benefit the State and its taxpayers who rely on revenue generated here and in Tiverton for important social programs.”
“I applaud the efforts of Bally’s as they begin their extraordinary investment in the state and put Rhode Islanders to work,” Ruggerio said of the expansion
“They have demonstrated a longterm commitment to Rhode Island and its taxpayers,” Ruggerio said.
George Nee, president of Rhode Island AFLCIO, joined Sabitoni in noting the benefits the project will have for Twin River’s union workers and the construction trades.
“This is economic development and it’s about jobs and we’ve mentioned jobs. But jobs doesn’t get us there. We need to have good jobs. And what do we mean about good jobs, good wages, good benefits, good working conditions and respect for the workforce, for the men and women who do the work,” Nee noted.
Although he was not to be officially swornin his new role as Town Administrator until Friday, now retired Lincoln Police Captain and administrator-elect Philip Gould also had praise for Twin River’s expansion at the groundbreaking.
While not yet sure what the Twin River improvements would represent in new town revenues, Gould said there would be obvious tax benefits when it is completed.
“Any improvement to an existing business certainly helps with new valuation and tax benefits to the town,” Gould said.