Rhode Island racino threatens bankruptcy as state officials yawn

Jun 15, 2009 7:20 PM
by Ray Poirier | Maybe the current owners of Lincoln Downs racetrack – now known as Twin River – should pray to the late B.A. Dario, the original owner of the track who ran it successfully for years.

"Please B.A. remove the hex that is keeping this racino from being successful," the BLB Investors, current owners of the property, might implore.

Actually, the property was going down hill as a greyhound track before English owners, Wembley plc, was given a slot machine license in the early 90’s. Greed, however, had two of their top executives allegedly attempting to bribe a state official to get additional slot machines. They got the machines but the two executives ended up in jail.

That’s when BLB stepped in. The partnership involving South African gaming giant Sol Kerzner; Starwood Hotels’ former CEO Barry Sternlicht, and Len Wolman of the Waterford Group bought the property. They immediately refurbished the slots casino, adding more machines, and established a debt load of $565 million.

Then the recession took its toll and Twin River found it couldn’t pay its bills without relief from the state.

Despite the fact that Twin River generates millions in state revenue annually, state officials have snubbed the racino’s operators. Bankruptcy could be a problem for both Twin River and Rhode Island.