Delaware Studies the Possibility of Casino Table Games Proposal at State Casinos

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Delaware Studies the Possibility of Casino Table Games Proposal at State Casinos

Two gaming bill that would have make the way for Delaware to add casino tables like craps to the state's existing gaming options passed their initial legislative blocks on January 20th, 2010.

The House Gaming and Pari-mutuels Committee decided to release a bill that permits card and dice games at slot machine facilities in Delaware, which already offers state lottery, slot machines and wagering on horse races and professional football games. The bill also would form a state lottery commission to oversee the casino table games and a new division of gambling enforcement.

Meanwhile, a state Senate committee released a separate bill that aims to prevent cheating on casino table games. That bill was approved by a full Senate later that day. In exchange for the chance of offering casino table games, casino facilities would pay a yearly collective licensing cost nominally set at $13.5 million.

But if the casino facilities spend a total of $2.5 million on capital improvements yearly and reach performance targets, the licensing cost could be as low as $5 million. The casino facilities would receive sixty-six percent of the gross casino table games revenue, with twenty-nine percent going to the state and 4.5% to horse racing purses.

Representative Deborah Hudson (Republican-Greenville), said that she was concerned that the casino facilities, which enjoy a state-granted monopoly on slot machines and sports wagering, would receive more than twice as much table games revenue as the state, which is facing a lot of financial difficulties.

Hudson said that she feels that this bill was not created in the interest of tax payers. She added that she thinks that Delaware will just get a pocket change from what is left over the gaming earnings.

Acting finance secretary Tom Cook said that the revenue split was the product of intensive discussions with the casino gaming industry and represents the second-biggest rate of return for any state that permits casino table games.

Cook also said that Delaware would receive income tax revenue from the estimated 750 new employment opportunities that the casino table games would bring.

The casino table games bill outlining the penalties for cheating on casino table games bill drew little examination in the Senate Judiciary Committee, although Senator Harris McDowell (Democrat-Wilmington) questioned a provision giving civil and criminal immunity to casino officials who would be permitted to detain a customer suspected of cheating until police officers arrived.

The legal counsel to Governor Jack Markell, Mike Barlow, said that the immunity is not absolute and casino officials could be held liable if they became unreasonable. Barlow added that the bill permits casino officials to detain someone in a reasonable conduct and for a reasonable amount of time while waiting for the arrival of police officers who will be immediately summoned.


Peter McCarthy