Delaware Gambling Panel Needs More Time to Submit Report - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Gambling Panel Needs More Time to Submit Report

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - A panel studying Delaware's ailing gaming industry had until Friday to wrap up its work, but it missed that deadline.

The Lottery and Gaming Study Commission has been examining Delaware's casino industry for six months. The General Assembly created the panel because Delaware casino revenues have dropped off dramatically.

Members had a Jan. 31 deadline for reporting back with findings and recommendations. Commission chair, state Finance Sec. Tom Cook, says he requested an extension to the end of February. He says his panel was close to having a report ready, just not close enough.

Commission members still haven't agreed on what adjustments, If any, they want to make to the way the casinos, the state and the horsemen split gambling revenue. What people do seem able to agree on is what is in large part holding things up.

Rep. Tim Dukes, R-Laurel, says it's hard to find one solution for three very different casinos.

"It's important we look at all three casinos and see what their needs are," he said. "Then we'll make a recommendation - not just so it fits Dover Downs but for Delaware Park and, especially, Harrington."

"There's not a consensus as to how much needs to be done and when," said Denis McGlynn, chairman of Dover Downs. "I think that stems from the fact that each of the three casinos has different needs."

First State casino revenues have fallen way off over the past half decade.  Thursday that was put into stark relief when Dover Downs reported 2013 earnings of a measly $13,000 - compared to $4.8 million in 2012. McGlynn says that's effectively breaking even, considering the company's overall revenue was $197 million last year.

He thinks commission members took notice.

"There's always a factor of disbelief among people that casinos make money," McGlynn said. "Now, there's proof audited by a public accounting firm that we made $13,000 last year."

Sec. Cook points out even though the deadline is now Feb. 28, the general assembly just started a six-week break.

"Nothing is going to transpire during that period anyway. It's very important that the members can come together and have a consensus on what the recommendations should be," said Cook.

He is confident there will be recommendation by the end of February. But no matter what this panel ends up recommending, it's only a recommendation. Authority to actually make any changes to the casinos revenue sharing model rests with the full General Assembly and the governor.

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