BILL TO EXPAND DELAWARE GAMING VENUES ANNOUNCED

Williams bill would allow two new casinos, one each in New Castle and Sussex counties

DOVER – Lawmakers announced a renewed push Thursday to expand gaming in Delaware, introducing legislation to authorize two additional casinos in the First State, one each in New Castle and Sussex counties.

Sponsored by Rep. Dennis E. Williams, House Bill 135 would create a nine-member committee comprised of three appointments each from the governor, Senate president pro tempore and House speaker to determine the locations of the casinos. No more than two of each set of appointments can be of the same political party, and each member must have at least 10 years of experience in business or government, or education in the areas of finance, accounting or banking. 

“This is a jobs bill, plain and simple,” said Rep. Williams, D-Talleyville. “We have talked about creating good-paying jobs since I was first elected, and this proposal will create thousands of jobs for construction workers and those who would work in the casinos. Nothing out there could bring such a volume of jobs as quickly as a project like this. We have an obligation as a government to remove obstacles preventing businesses from growing and creating jobs.”

Under HB 135, the Lottery Economic Development Committee would be appointed within 30 days. Project applications would be submitted 90 to 120 days after the application process begins, and the committee must make its decision on the two locations – by majority vote – within 60 days of the submission deadline.

The committee would review each application and take into account the reasonableness of all estimates and the financial viability of each applicant. The committee’s decision for each location would be based on multiple criteria, including, at a minimum:

  • Lottery revenue – Net proceeds, including the projection of the impact of the proposed new facility on existing video lottery casinos;
  • Estimated personal income tax revenue to the state from wages earned by temporary, permanent, full-time and part-time employees of the casino and its related businesses;
  • Financial and economic cost to the state for infrastructure and other expenditures to facilitate the construction and operation of the casino and related businesses;
  • Financial and economic impact on the surrounding communities;
  • Percentage of project and ongoing expenditures, including salaries and wages, going to Delaware businesses and residents.

The committee’s decision is final and cannot be appealed. The new casinos would not be required to offer horse racing.

Rep. Williams noted that Delaware’s existing three casinos have uniformly opposed previous attempts to expand gaming within the state, even while the owners of Delaware Park in Stanton built and opened Ocean Downs casino just a few miles over the state line in Maryland, drawing revenue out of Sussex County.

“Bringing the free market into play creates competition within Delaware rather than having competition pop up across state lines. We also will be able to capture more of the market that exists outside of Delaware,” Rep. Williams said. “This will bring additional revenue to the state to pay for education, public safety and infrastructure improvements.”

 

HB 135 has been assigned to the House Gaming & Pari-mutuels Committee and will be heard on Wednesday.