Proposal to expand Delaware gambling

What’s billed as Delaware’s Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 could lead to new gambling options through the state – some as close as your cellphone or computer.

On the same day that Maryland lawmakers approved legislation authorizing a sixth casino in that state, Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s administration briefed First State lawmakers about their initiatives. 

The proposal includes allowing internet sales of Delaware Lottery games such as Pick 3, Powerball and scratch-off games, as well as online casino-style games.  Also, sports lottery would be expanded to at least 20 additional sites in Fiscal Year 2013, and Keno – a bingo-style game – would come to about 100 sites throughout the state.  Currently sports wagering and casino-style games and slots are only authorized at Delaware’s three racetrack casinos:  Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway. 

State Finance Secretary Tom Cook said Illinois became the first state to sell lottery tickets online, and more than $15,000 in tickets were sold on the first day. 

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Governor Markell’s Chief Strategy Officer Brian Selander said the state came up with the proposal in response to increasing competition from other states.  According to Selander, the proposals are being considered by lawmakers who would introduce a bill, likely before the General Assembly’s next two-week break in April.

Gaming revenues for Delaware totaled $248.8-million in Fiscal Year 2011.  The state estimates the additional activity would generate between $7- and 8-million annually in revenues.  The casinos would no longer have to pay a video lottery fee, and the table game fee would be reduced.  However, they would have to reinvest that same amount into marketing, capital expenditures and debt reduction. 

“It’s going to be good for our business, and good for the state,” Dover Downs President and CEO Ed Sutor said.  “The state recognizes that this is a partnership.”

To encourage expansion of slots, or Video Lottery Terminals, the state would remove a surcharge placed on a casino with more than 2,500 slot machines in operation.  None of Delaware’s casinos are at that level.

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