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Delaware considers adding two casinos

Once again, Delaware lawmakers are looking to add two new casinos in the First State; one each in New Castle and Sussex Counties.

Past proposals have consistently stalled in the General Assembly, but that hasn’t deterred state lawmakers from introducing new legislation this session. 

The renewed push is similar to a previous bill in that it would create a 9-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. Dennis E. Williams, D-Talleyville, who is sponsoring House Bill 135. “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.”

Delaware’s three existing casinos are against expansion, saying the market is saturated. However, Rep. Williams points to Ocean Downs, a casino opened a few miles over the state line in Maryland as an example. The owners of Delaware Park opened Ocean Downs, which Williams says poaches 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 will be formally filed Tuesday, and heard by the House Gaming & Pari-mutuels Committee on Wednesday.

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