Bally’s Tiverton Casino Seeks Property Tax Reduction, Cites COVID-19 Pandemic

Bally’s Tiverton Casino and Hotel says the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the property valuation of its resort, and tax assessors got it wrong with their latest calculation.

Bally's Tiverton casino Rhode Island tax property
Bally's Tiverton casino Rhode Island tax property
The Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel team wear pink last October to raise awareness of breast cancer. The casino execs are also trying to raise awareness with Tiverton town officials in claiming that the resort’s assessed property value is too high in the wake of COVID-19. (Image: Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel)

Northeast Revaluation Group, one of the two main property tax assessors used by numerous municipalities throughout Rhode Island, valued Bally’s Tiverton at just shy of $60.5 million at the end of the pandemic-stricken 2020. But the Bally’s Corporation argues that it’s worth even less because of altered operating conditions caused by the coronavirus.

Though the Tiverton casino’s assessed value was reduced 6.5% from its pre-pandemic appraisal, company officials say the property should be on the hook for even fewer tax dollars. Bally’s has been appealing the property tax assessment since November.

Bally’s Corp. was known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings until the Rhode Island-based gaming operator acquired the iconic casino brand from Caesars Entertainment in 2020. The newly branded gaming firm subsequently renamed its two state casinos from Twin River Casino Hotel in Lincoln and Tiverton Casino Hotel, to Bally’s Twin River Lincoln and Bally’s Tiverton.

Pandemic Pushes Revenue Down

Bally’s Tiverton officials say the pandemic hurt its business operations much more than 6.5%. In its appeal to the Tiverton Tax Assessor, the casino company points to the fact that the state ordered the casino to fully shutter its operations from mid-March of 2020 through mid-June of that year.

Bally’s reps contend that the 33,600-square-foot casino and 400-room hotel being forced closed for a quarter of the year should warrant a greater property tax assessment reduction. The Tiverton Tax Board of Review says it will render a decision on the matter within two weeks.

In its 2019 fiscal year (July ’18-June ’19), Bally’s Tiverton reported slot machine gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $90.9 million. Its table games generated an additional $20.9 million, for a combined haul of approximately $111.8 million. GGR for Bally’s Tiverton’s 2020 fiscal campaign totaled $94.3 million — a nearly 16% decline.

The fiscal year 2021 began a gaming rebound. But the Tiverton casino’s combined $101.2 million in slot and table game revenue still remained 9.5% below pre-pandemic business.

Mutual Solution

Tiverton Tax Assessor David Robert initially denied the Bally’s Tiverton tax petition, which led to the casino pursuing a formal appeal with the town’s Tax Board of Review. However, Bally’s reps tell that the company and city are working together to find a resolution that is mutually satisfactory.

Tiverton relies heavily on the casino for its annual budget. The state’s 2016 liberalization of casino gambling guaranteed the town $3 million annually from the casino in gaming revenue share. That number increased to $3.1 million with the inclusion of sports betting in 2018.

Along with gaming taxes, Tiverton collects property taxes on the casino resort. Tiverton’s current property tax rate is $15.65 per $1,000 assessed value.

For Bally’s Tiverton and its latest assessed value at roughly $60.5 million, that means the casino — pending its appeal outcome — is responsible for $946,825 in annual property taxes.

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