Tuesday March 12 ,2014 : DELAWARE GAMBLING COMMITTEE SUBMITS FINDINGS (Update)
Changes to enable land casinos to be more competitive could cost Delaware $20 million a year.
The commission appointed by the Delaware legislature to investigate ways to make the state's land casino industry more competitive in the face of mounting activity in neighbouring Pennsylvania and Maryland met Tuesday and agreed on recommendations to be given to state lawmakers.
The recommendations could cost state coffers up to $20 million a year in tax losses.
Panel members voted 7-to-2 to approve the recommendations, which included:
*That the state should split 75 percent of the costs for slot machine vendors and fees with Delaware's three casinos, rather than insist that the casinos continue to pay the full amount. If that took effect on July 1 this year, it will cost the state $9.9 million in the next fiscal year;
* The elimination of the annual $3 million table games fee paid by the casinos effective July 1, 2015;
* A reduction in the state's share of table game revenue from 29.4 percent to 15 percent, at an estimated annual cost of $7.2 million;
* There should be an update of a 2004 study of Delaware's equine industry to determine the current economic impact on the horse racing industry. The study is expected to cost less than $100,000.
* $3 million in unspent funds from an $8 million financial bailout extended to the casinos last year to be used to pay for economic development initiatives, preferably related to the gambling industry.
The recommendations, which are supported by Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, will be submitted to the General Assembly for lawmakers to consider.
House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, said: "It doesn't necessarily mean this will be the final outcome…. I think it's a good starting point."
Representatives Charles Potter and Alan Levin cast the two opposing votes, voicing concerns about the cost.
Levin has earlier proposed changes that would have cost the state $14.9 million a year, combining the table game cuts with $2.5 million in incentives for casinos for marketing and renovations, and a reduction in the online gaming tax to a flat 25 percent for all games.
The subject of online gambling was not specifically discussed.