Delaware House to debate gambling expansion this week

    Delaware’s House of Representatives appears ready to dive back into the the issue of adding new casinos to the three that already exist in the First State.

    Delaware’s House of Representatives appears ready to dive back into the the issue of adding new casinos to the three that already exist in the First State.

    House Majority leader Pete Schwartzkopf (D) has filed an amendment to House Bill 194 that calls for two new venues in the state, one in Sussex County and another in the city of Wilmington.  It would also establish the process for selecting the locations for those new venues.

    Floor debate on the bill is scheduled for Thursday.

    “The Video and Sports Lottery Study Commission authorized a study that came back in January favorable to two more casinos in Delaware. After listening to people on all sides, I decided that a more competitive, open and transparent process for determining the locations is the best way to proceed.” said Rep. Schwartzkopf.

    The new version of the bill would create two five-member committees to select the venues.  The committee choosing the Sussex County location would be comprised of the Delaware Economic Development office director and the Secretary of Finance, along with a retired judicial officer from the Delaware court system, a retired banker with at least 12 years experience and a retired law enforcement officer selected by the Governor.  The Wilmington selection committee would also have the Delaware Economic Development office director and the Secretary of Finance, joined by two members selected by the Mayor of Wilmington and another by the Wilmington City Council president.

    The amendment also calls for applications for a new venue to be submitted within 60 to 75 days of enactment of the legislation.  The committees will then assess the applications on criteria including:

    • Overall anticipated revenue of the Delaware Lottery at each location;
    • Capacity of the project to create the maximum number of permanent and temporary jobs;
    • Business plan for the project and the experience of the owners, developers and video lottery operators;
    • Financial viability of the project and the financial investment made to date;
    • How soon a project could be open for business;
    • Effects on the surrounding community.

    “We want to make sure that applicants are capable of following through on their proposals and that they build what they say they are going to build,” Rep. Schwartzkopf said.

    The three existing casinos, Delaware Park, Dover Downs , and Harrington Raceway and Casino, oppose the addition of new venues and commissioned their own study.  That study reported expansion would “further cannibalize a decreasing market.”

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