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Governor Jack Markell Supports Casino Table Games in Delaware
A gaming bill that would include casino table games like craps to the gaming options in the state of Delaware was passed by House legislations on January 20th, 2010. Legislators reviewed several amendments before approving the gaming bill on a 27-5 margin with little talk.
The measure will now be given to the state Senate. Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who proposed the casino table games bill as an option to help improve state revenue, said that he was happy with the action of the House and looked forward to the approval of the Senate of the measure.
The bill would allow card games at slot machine establishments in the state of Delaware, which already offers gamblers a state lottery, slot machines and the option to wager on horse races and professional football games. It would also create a lottery commission to handle the table games and new gaming enforcement division.
In response to an inquiry from a Republican legislator, Gov. Markell's legal counsel. Mike Barlow said that the state government believes that casino table games are an allowable exception to gaming restrictions in the state constitution because luck would be the main factor in winning or losing. Barlow said that it is a question that they have given a lot of thought.
Barlow was involved in similar talks regarding Delaware's sports wagering scheme. Delaware's plan to feature sports wagering on a different variety of athletic events was dismissed by a federal appeals court and restricted to multigame wagers on National Football League games after being challenged by professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Officials estimate that Delaware would earn at least $40 million in additional revenue in the first year of casino table gaming, which would be offered only at locations with slot machine licenses. Currently, there are three slot machine casinos in Delaware, but some legislators want to increase that number to five.
In exchange for the opportunity to add casino table games to their gaming offering, casino facilities would pay a yearly licensing fee of $13.5 million. But if gaming facilities spend a total of $2.5 million on capital improvement yearly and reached their performance targets, the yearly licensing cost could be as low as $5 million. The Democratic-led House thwarted Republican attempts to change the propose revenue split with casino facilities.
The gaming bill gives casino establishments 66% of the gross casino table game revenue, with 29% going to Delaware and 4.5% going to horse racing purses. Markell defended the planned revenue split as an "excellent agreement" for taxpayers.
Representative Deborah Hudson (R-Greenville), offered an unsuccessful amendment that would have increased Delaware's portion to 47.5% once a casino facility excited its projected casino table games revenue in any fiscal year.
Hudson said that revenue from slot machines has far surpassed the amount expected when legislators approved them in 1994 but it took fourteen years before the gaming revenue split with casino facilities was adjusted.
Hudson said that they are in control of this gaming monopoly and they should be partners with gamers in this monopoly. But some Republicans stated that casino facilities will incur much of the cost of getting casino table games operational and that increasing the share of Delaware as Hudson proposed would be the same as penalizing a casino facility for being successful.
Legislators also dismissed an amendment under which the initial gaming revenue division would have expired after 3 years, forcing legislators to study the issue again. House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf said that he was not happy about the idea, stating that it can be hard to get legislators to act.
David M. Bedingfield