Corporate tax bill clears committee, Delaware casino bailout debated



A bill that would increase a few corporate tax fees in Delaware cleared its first hurdle in Dover.

House Bill 265 passed the House Administration Committee on Wednesday and will now head to the House floor. The bill will allow the state to increase the corporation franchise tax by $100 as well as increase the annual tax assessed on partnerships, limited partnerships and LLCs from $250 to $300.

The increases would raise about $51.5 million annually and would help the state manage a projected budget deficit.

Gaming Committee findings

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Meanwhile, the House Gaming Committee met to discuss the Lottery and Gaming Study Commission findings.

The panel was assembled last July to find out how the state could assist the ailing gaming industry. Even with the recent addition of Internet gaming and sports betting, gaming revenues will not meet expectations.

Delaware’s three casinos have blamed their revenue shortfalls on competition from neighboring Pennsylvania and Maryland casinos. The state relies on gaming revenues to help cover about seven percent of the budget.

Tom Cook, state secretary of finance, served as chair of the commission and outlined some of the findings to the committee. 

One recommendation from the panel includes the state sharing the cost of slot machine vendors and fees, which would cost Delaware $9.9 million. Currently, the three casinos split that amount.  

A second recommendation is to eliminate the $3 million annual licensing fee for table games and reduce the state’s share of table game revenue from 29.4 percent to 15 percent.

In addition, lawmakers suggested adding provisions that stipulate if casino revenues increase, the money would go toward jobs and not executive bonuses.

Questions were also raised about the amount of information the casinos are truly sharing. Cook said that all three have been cooperative in “opening their books,” but as two are privately held, their information is confidential.  

It will be up to lawmakers to draft a bill to help the casinos. 

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