Amendment scales down proposed casino relief package

The Delaware State Senate in late April approved a measure that would reduce the state tax and fee burden on casinos. Since then, the measure has languished in the House.

However, a proposed amendment that would cut the relief package in half could set it up for a vote.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, (D-Rehoboth Beach), has not been convinced that the industry needs what many call a bailout of $20 million. 

"Surrendering that much money to three private institutions means there would be less money for various programs benefiting seniors, students and people with disabilities, as well as adequately supporting correctional officers, probation and parole officers and other state workers," Schwartzkopf said in a statement Thursday.

"But despite my reservations, I have to balance those concerns against the simple fact that the state of Delaware is a business partner with these casinos," Schwartzkopf continued. "They employ thousands of workers, which means thousands of families would be imacted if they are forced to close or lay off people."

Under an amendment filed by Schwartzkopf, a proposed reduction in the state's share of gross slot machine revenues would be eliminated. Also in the bill, the state's share of gross table game revenues would be cut from 29.4 percent to 15.5 percent. The table game licensing fee would be eliminated.

Schwartzkopf said this would provide about $10 million in relief to Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway, and Delaware Park. This, he said, would allow them to make investments into their operations and be profitable.

"With this structural change and the addition of sports betting, which should attract more patrons and provide even more revenue for the casinos, there would be no reason for them to seek additional relief for years to come," Schwartzkopf said.

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.