Delaware lawmakers approve new gambling options

New forms of gambling will be coming to Delaware as part of the effort to address competition from new venues in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The State Senate voted 14-6 Wednesday in favor of a bill to expand gambling to the internet, cellphones, and to taverns throughout the state.

The measure is known as the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act. It would create Keno parlors across the state while expanding the availability of sports wagering, which is currently limited to Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway. Sales of Delaware lottery games would also be available online and over cellphones for the first time, as would casino-style games.

“We can keep Delaware at the forefront of developing new gaming options,” Senate President Pro Tem Anthony DeLuca (D.-Varlano) said. He added that it also would bring regulation and some control to online gaming, where now there is none.

Opponents included State Senator David Lawson (R.-Dover), who attempted to introduce a replacement bill that would have reduced the state’s share of gaming revenues without introducing new gambling options.

“We don’t need in-home gambling in this state,” Lawson said.

Proponents also said while the bill creates additional revenues for the industry, the casinos are also required to reinvest that money into their own growth through capital projects and marketing initiatives.

They also had jobs on their mind. Dover Downs President and CEO Ed Sutor said layoffs would have been the likely result without passage of the bill.

“We have been in an overtaxed situation for a couple of years now. It’s really put a strain on our cash flow,” Sutor said. “This will help ensure that we can meet our obligations, including a mortgage that we took out to build our last couple of expansions.”

Wednesday’s vote gives the proposal final legislative approval. Governor Markell is expected to sign the bill into law.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal