Twin River Executive Vice President Marc Crisafulli on Wednesday identified Brett Smiley, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s chief of staff, as the person who he asserts threatened Twin River’s business in the state.

The Raimondo administration has flatly denied that Twin River was threatened, as alleged in correspondence from the company’s president and CEO.

Crisafulli declined to identify the source of the threat during questioning in the Senate Finance Committee last week.

But in a letter to Senate Finance Chairman William Conley (D-East Providence, Crisafulli said he decided to elaborate after the issue continued to receive media coverage. It also comes as Twin River and IGT Global Solutions wage a bitter fight over which company will win a lucrative contract to provide most of Rhode Island's gambling services.

Crisafulli said Smiley called him on June 27.

“He explained to me the details of the IGT legislation, including some last-minute changes that were made around the VLTS,” Crisafulli wrote, refering to video lottery terminals, which generate close to 80 percent of the state’s gambling revenue. “He asked me to not go scorched earth and oppose the deal. He informed me Twin River would not receive anything directly regarding the VLTs.

“He then stated that the broader relationship between Twin River and the state is important, they are our regulator, they know we need their help because of the leverage ratio to grow our business, and they want to be helpful, but if we oppose the IGT deal they will not be cooperative with us.”

Raimondo has steadfastly backed a no-bid $1 billion 20-year extension for IGT, calling that the best way to keep about 1,100 jobs in Rhode Island and to avoid disrupting the state’s third-largest revenue source.

Twin River has been trying to convince state lawmakers to use an open bidding process to determine which company will provide most of the state’s gambling services. Both IGT and Twin River have spent lavishly on lobbyists and paid advertising.

Crisafulli wrote that he drew this message from his conversation with Smiley: “Mr. Smiley’s message was crystal clear. If Twin River opposed the IGT legislation which was being introduced that day, we would suffer regulatory consequences with the state.”

Smiley used a statement issued through the governor's office to deny Crisafulli's accusation.

“I spoke with Mr. Crisafulli several times over many weeks and never once made a threat," Smiley said. "That is not how I conduct myself. The day the legislation was introduced, I gave him a courtesy call to let him know that the General Assembly was moving forward, but that the proposal did not include Twin River getting VLTs. He was not happy with that news and it was a tense call. I also told him the State’s broader relationship with Twin River is important and I hope we’ll find other ways to help them grow their business. It’s unfortunate that they would make this accusation months later at the conclusion of the public hearings."

Smiley became Raimondo's chief of staff in 2016. He ran for mayor of Providence in 2014, before later working in Mayor Jorge Elorza's administration. Smiley is widely considered a likely candidate for mayor in 2022.

In a statement, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said, “The House is deeply troubled by the revelations that the Governor’s Chief of Staff Brett Smiley threatened Twin River’s Executive Vice President Marc Crisafulli with regulatory retaliation should they oppose the IGT contract extension. The regulatory system in Rhode Island has been seen as a barrier to business and economic development for many years. Political threats of retaliation at the highest level of government coming directly from the Governor’s office should not be tolerated.”

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio declined to take Crisafulli's accusation at face value.

"We don’t know what was said between the Administration and Twin River," Ruggerio said in a statement. "What we do know is that both Twin River and IGT are valuable partners for our state, and will continue to be well into the future no matter what happens with the pending legislation. We need to stop the finger-pointing and work together to find an amicable resolution for all parties for the benefit of the people of Rhode Island.”

RI GOP Chairwoman Sue Cienki called Crisafulli's accusation "a serious allegation which needs to be investigated."

She said the GOP will contact the state Ethics Commission about the issue, and she called on House and Senate committees to review it.

(The Public's Radio gets some financial support from IGT.)

This story has been updated.