DE Lottery Commission accepts gambling expansion study – with conditions

    The State of Delaware’s Sports and Video Lottery commission voted 5-4 to accept the gambling expansion study produced by TMG Consultants and release it to the General Assembly and the public, but did not endorse its findings.

    The State of Delaware’s Sports and Video Lottery commission voted 5-4 to accept the gambling expansion study produced by TMG Consultants and release it to the General Assembly and the public, but did not endorse its findings.

    The commission, in that 5-4 vote, rejected what it called the “defacto finding” in the study that Delaware’s best option to increase state revenues would be to add two new gambling venues, without horse racing, in the southwest and northeast portions of the state.  The commission cited concerns over potential job losses (notwithstanding a possible net job gain), the potential damage to the horse racing industry and the destabilization of the state’s three current racinos.

    “It does, in fact, transfer this debate and decision making process to the legislature.” said commission chairman Dennis Rochford, “I think everybody going in realized that this is where this issue would ultimately be resolved.”

    Rochford said at Tuesday’s commission meeting, TMG provided additional information requested by some commission members last week, including the modeling that led them to conclude adding two casinos was the best scenario for Delaware.  TMG also addressed the possible impact adding table games in Delaware may have on its findings.  TMG was not asked to include Delaware table games in its study.  It told the commission Tuesday a more detailed study would be necessary to precisely measure the impact of table games, but based on industry trends, TMG felt comfortable saying table games would increase revenue and would not change their finding that two more casinos is the optimal scenario for Delaware.

    Rochford does not believe the vote to challenge some of TMG’s conclusions marginalizes the study.  “My sense of it is: there are people who are proponents of expansion, there are people who are opponents of expansion, in the legislation, as well as outside the legislature, and I think they are going to take this report seriously” Rochford said, “Its been publicly debated for the last week.  I think their going to look at the study done by the racino industry and then, at that point in time, make a judgment.”

    “Nobody ever thought, in my view, going into this that it would be anything other than a challenging fight to expand the venues.” added Rochford.

    While the Sports and Video Lottery Commission is done with its examination of  adding more casinos, it still has to take up the possibility of allowing sports betting at venues outside casinos.  Rochford says its aims to have a report on that by April 1st.

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