Del. Casino Say Revenue Uptick Just 'Less Bad,' Lottery Preparin - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Casino Say Revenue Uptick Just 'Less Bad,' Lottery Preparing to Expand Offerings

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- Delaware's casinos are calling an apparent uptick in revenue from slot machines not good, just "less bad."

The state's Video Lottery Advisory Council met Tuesday and discussed the impact of increased gaming in neighboring states on the casino industry in Delaware.

May was the one-year anniversary of Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County. The Delaware casinos say Maryland Live! took a huge chunk of the money they were making from slot machines, which makes up about 90-percent of their revenue.

February 2013 revenue was down 22 percent from February 2012. By June, that percentage was down to 11 percent.

Each month the situation has improved slightly. But each month is still down from last year before Maryland Live! existed.

And table games are starting to take a hit. Maryland Live! added them in May. And it has many more tables than any casino in Delaware has.

"Just the shear size of it," said Ed Sutor, CEO of Dover Downs, "The proximity they have to a high population base, gives them a real competitive edge."

And as the casinos deal with that, the lottery is growing the services it offers. First, the number of businesses offering sports betting for the upcoming NFL season is doubling last year's total - from 31 to at least 61 - with a focus on the southern part of the state.

"In New Castle County, you can find a place pretty readily," said Vernon Kirk, director of the state lottery. "But in Kent and particularly in Sussex, there's a scarcity of towns and retailers. So, we were able to fill in some gaps and make it much more convenient."

And the goal is to have Internet gambling up and running by the end of September.

"There's no blueprint to go by right now. There's been a lot of research and help from a variety of sources. We're plowing forward into some uncharted territory here."

The lottery last week released its proposed set of regulations for online gambling. The public can comment through July 31.

Delaware's casinos have been pushing for the state to lower their tax rate. Last month lawmakers created a new commission to look into the health of the industry and report back by the start of next year. They also set aside $8million for the casinos to help pay for rising vendor costs.

Also right at the end of this year's legislative session in Delaware lawmakers looked at adding to more casinos. One would have been in Sussex County, the other, in New Castle County. That plan never got much traction after significant push back from the existing casinos in Delaware.

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