LINCOLN — Some 17 months after filing for bankruptcy protection, the Twin River gaming facility and its new owners announced Tuesday that they have successfully emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation and the Department of Revenue, Division of Lotteries have issued the final necessary approvals, and documents announcing the company's emergence from bankruptcy have been filed with the bankruptcy court, according to a press release.
According to published reports, the state Division of Lotteries this week approved the transfer of licenses needed to operate the slot parlor to the new ownership team of UTGR Inc., Twin River's holding company.
Twin River, under UTGR Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 2009 after its investors were facing $568 million in debt from the Lincoln gaming facility as well as four other slot parlors. The Department of Business Regulation approved a takeover by a new lenders group last month and the matter then had to await approval from the state Lottery.
“This is a great day for Twin River, our more than 900 employees, customers, and, really, for the entire state,” said John E. Taylor Jr., chairman of Twin River/UTGR's board of directors. “The property and its new owners emerge with a debt load that has literally been halved, its credit obligations met and a strong balance sheet.”
Taylor noted that the debt on the property has now been reduced to approximately $300 million from $598 million. “None of this would have been possible if not for the continued loyalty of Twin River customers and support from the General Assembly, the administration and our regulators,” he stated.
“We have a beautiful facility.” said Taylor, who added that Twin River has grown over the last three years by some 22 percent while other regional competitors have experienced a significant decline. He said, “We're quite well equipped going forward” with the debt at $300 million and the business doing this well.
Taylor called the series of events leading to the bankruptcy filing “a perfect storm.” He said the former equity sponsors of Twin River made incremental investments of $100 million during 2007 and 2008 “to create a world-class gaming facility.” At the same time, the local and national economy collapsed.
Taylor noted that despite the sluggish local economy, Twin River increased its revenues by 26 percent during 2008 to 2009. He said the Lincoln gaming facility generated approximately $250 million for the state in the last fiscal year and remains a strong revenue generator through the first quarter of this fiscal year. From this January to October, revenue is up 7 percent from the same period of 2009, he added.
Taylor cautioned, however, that the imminent changes in the complexion of the New England gaming landscape could pose a challenge in the future. “Massachusetts is poised to allow full gaming at some point in the near future, and given that nearly half of our customer base is from the Commonwealth, we must act quickly to address that very real threat,” he said in a press release
However, Taylor said that Twin River is a business that must continue to move forward in providing a great gaming experience to players in order to remain competitive. Now, it can do that “without the stigma of bankruptcy,” he stated.