Twin River to Pay Dog Owners to Stop Greyhound Racing as it Faces Bankruptcy Issue
A financially challenged slots facility seeking bankruptcy protection will pay $5 million as it tried to end the last greyhound races in Rhode Island because the races is costing the racing track a lot of money, lawyers of UTGR Inc. said on October 25th, 2009.
According to court documents, UTGR Incorporated, the owner of the Twin River gaming hall, has agreed to give the Rhode Island Greyhound Owners Association $2 million to end greyhound racing at the racing track if the restructuring plan is passed by a federal judge. The greyhound dog owners would receive an additional $3 million if Twin River successfully emerges from bankruptcy protection.
US Bankruptcy Court Judge Arthur Votolato was expected to review the restructuring plan at a November 17th, 2009 court hearing. Twin River filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2009 as its owners find it difficult to pay a $500 million in debt incurred to buy and renovate the establishment. State officials have closely followed the issue since Twin River’s slot machines are the third-biggest source of income of the state.
They are expected to produce about $239 million this year or eight percent of all income raised by Rhode Island. Twin River spokesperson Patti Doyle said that if the settlement is approved by the bankruptcy court, it completes an important step towards improving the financial capability of the slots facility which will help preserve an important revenue for Rhode Island.
Twin River, which started as a horse racing track in the 1940’s, is the last location in Rhode Island to feature greyhound racing. Spokesperson Jennifer Bramley said that dog owners wanted to keep the dog races but eventually consented to a settlement. She added that dog owners believe that this settlement is a fair agreement in light of the track’s bankruptcy issues.
Governor Don Carcieri (Republican) helped make a bankruptcy plan that would permit Twin River to restructure and continue its operation. As part of the agreement, Carcieri asked state legislators to repeal a state law forcing Twin River to offer one hundred twenty-five days of greyhound racing. Betting on the greyhound races has dropped from $150 million in 1990 to $13 million.
Instead of putting an end to the games, Democrats in the General Assembly approved a law expanding the greyhound racing season to two hundred days. Carcieri disapproved the law but Democratic legislative officials said that they would seek to overturn the veto of Gov. Carcieri. If legislators refused to end greyhound racing, Twin River officials said that they may find new dog owners that are willing to race for less earnings.