Friday, April 27, 2018

Delaware Senate Passes Casino Relief Package

Casino News Daily
Delaware Senate Passes Casino Relief Package

The Delaware Senate passed Thursday afternoon a bill that would cut the revenue shared annually by the state’s three casinos in a bid to boost the venues that have been struggling with heavy tax burdens amid growing competition from neighboring states and rising operating costs.

Senators voted 17-3 to pass Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 144. The piece of legislation is now to be reviewed and voted in the Delaware House. While its passage in the Senate was supported overwhelmingly, it steering through the lower house of the state’s Legislature might not be that effortless, as there have been House Representatives to have opposed the move previously.

SB 144 will reduce the share of gross table game revenues paid by casinos to 15.5% from 29.4%. In addition, the slot machine revenue share will be cut by two percentage points from 43% to 41%. The casino relief package also includes a provision that will eliminate the license fee paid by casinos on their table games due in June 2019.

The piece of legislation was a revised version of a bill introduced early in January. State legislators have tried to pass similar efforts in previous years but without much success.

Gov. Carney Ready for Discussions

If SB 144 passes the House successfully, it will also need to be signed by Delaware Gov. John Carney in order to take effect. The state’s top official was previously believed to be among the opponents of the proposed casino relief package as its implementation would result in Delaware losing around $20 million in casino payments per year.

However, following a meeting last month with some of SB 144’s sponsors, the Governor said that discussions on a potential revenue share cut should no longer be delayed.

Casino officials and legislators have previously pointed out that the industry desperately needs a major boost as it has been trying to fight competition from neighboring states and to cope with growing costs for doing business in the state. The state’s three casino and horse race tracks are currently supporting nearly 4,000 jobs, which casino officials have said are at risk given the current landscape and financial hurdles.

Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway, and Delaware Park are the three operational racinos in Delaware. Following the Thursday Senate vote, industry leaders told media that while they have hoped for a bigger reduction, they were content that something was finally being done for the three gambling venues.

Sen. Brian Bushweller, one of the supporters of the casino relief bill, told media that it has been several years now that he has considered it his highest legislative priority to secure much-needed restructuring of the financial relationship between the state and its casino industry. According to the legislator, that relationship has not been functional enough for years, putting 4,000 people at risk of losing their job at one of Delaware’s three casinos.

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