Twin River vice president charged with bribery

By Ethan Anderson Updated
Twin River vice president charged with bribery

Casino operator Twin River Worldwide Holdings is dealing with fresh controversy after one of its senior executives was charged with bribery.

Calvin Ayre reports that last Tuesday, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office announced it had filed multiple charges of accepting bribes and ‘casino gaming bribes’ against Michael Barlow.

Barlow is the senior vice president of operations at Twin River, which operates Rhode Island’s two casinos on behalf of the state government.

Attorney General Peter Neronha said a grand jury had returned an indictment on December 12, that included 30 felony counts against Barlow and two other individuals – casino vendor Yehuda Amar and Amar’s business associate Jill Feldman.

Amar is accused of making payments to Barlow – who began his tenure with Twin Rivers in 2006 – to secure subleases with multiple food court vendors at Twin River casino properties, as well as securing multiple business contracts.

Barlow and Amar were partners in several residential and commercial properties in Connecticut, which resulted in Barlow incurring $340,000 in debt to Amar.

To service these debts, Barlow allegedly steered vendors and contracts to Amar, who “significantly” profited from these transactions.

Amar and Feldman allegedly failed to file corporate tax returns in the state from 2016-18, while also failing to report business income and filing fraudulent personal income tax returns.

Barlow, whose home was searched by police in June, is facing four counts of accepting a bribe, three counts of obtaining property under false pretences, three counts of conspiracy to obtain property under false pretences, and two counts of casino gaming crimes/providing false information.

Barlow was arraigned on Tuesday, before being released on $20,000 bail.

Twin River cooperates; new CEO appointed

Twin River issued a statement saying it had “cooperated fully” with state authorities in their investigation while noting that “one employee involved in this non-gaming matter is no longer employed by the company.”

Twin River is embroiled in a dispute with Rhode Island over the state awarding International Game Technology a 20-year extension on its contract to run the state’s lottery and supply the bulk of electronic gaming machines to the state’s casino floor.

Questions surrounding the contract extension have led to a probe by the state’s Ethics Commission.

Earlier this month, Twin Rivers chairman John Taylor announced he was leaving the company after 10 years as chairman.

Soohyung Kim, founding partner of major Twin River investor, Standard General L.P. was named Taylor’s replacement.

Rhode Island casino struggles with Encore Boston’s success

The July opening of Encore’s Boston Casino may force layoffs at the nearby Twin River Casino in Lincoln due to the poorer performance of its table games in weeks following the open.

Casino News Daily reported the announcement about Twin River looking to reduce staff in July and it came shortly after the company released its financial report for the second quarter.

The performance of table games was in fact worse than expected, while the performance of its slot machines was in line with projections.

In July, revenue from table games at the property recorded a 34 per cent annual drop to $7.6 million, while slot machines NTI decreased 17 per cent year-on-year to $32.2 million.

Twin River attributed the slowing business at its Lincoln business to the recent launch of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbour integrated resort in neighbouring Massachusetts.

The Wynn Resorts-operated mega complex was launched in late June and recorded $16.8 million in revenue during its first week of operation.

The figures showing how the property performed in its first full month are due next week.

Tiverton casino not having the same struggles

Twin River’s other Rhode Island casino was not impacted by the new Boston casino, the company said in its report.

The Tiverton casino itself opened doors not long ago.

The operator launched the property last Autumn by transferring its existing Newport Grand licence to Tiverton. The Newport Grand facility was then closed.

Twin River said in its quarterly report that they were pleased with the lack of impact they have experienced at Tiverton where “gaming volumes in July were relatively flat to our recent monthly run-rate, which we view as a positive.”

The company added that when they planned the opening of that second property, “the expectation was for it to offset the impact of new competition so that operating income in the market would be flat to Lincoln alone.”

The recent performance of their Lincoln property has forced the company to revise its expectations for combine operating income to be 10 per cent lower than initial expectation levels.

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