Del. Panel Recommends Casino Changes, Could Cost State Millions - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Panel Recommends Casino Changes, Could Cost State Millions

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. (WBOC)- After nearly eight months of work, a panel studying Delaware's gaming industry has come back with a recommendation that could cost the state $30 million over the next two years.

The Lottery and Gaming Study Commission started working over the summer to see if there was anything the state could do to help bolster Delaware's ailing casinos.

A lot of the focus was on how the casinos, state, horesmen and slot machine vendors were splitting gambling revenue. Right now, the casinos pay all of the fees owed to the slot machine vendors, which lease the machines to the casinos. A big part of the commission's recommendation is having the state share a chunk of that cost.

That change would take effect on July 1. It would cost the state $10 million annually. More recommended changes would up that to $20 million annually starting July 1, 2015. All told, the proposal would cost Delaware $30 million over the next two years. And all of that is money the casinos would keep instead.

"[It's] an outcome that I think was the best we could hope for under the current circumstances. We have a fiscal situation in the state. The industry is not unaware of that," said Denis McGlynn, chairman of Dover Downs.

McGlynn also recognizes it's an election year, which could make this difficult territory. But it's the fiscal impact on an already hurting state budget that most concerns commission member and Economic Development Sec.. Alan Levin. He voted against the recommendation, which came from state Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover.

"I think it went a little too far, and that's what concerns me," Sec. Levin said. "The taxpayers - he says it's not a tax - frankly, somebody has to make up that $20 million. There's going to be a gap in the budget. It's going to come out of the taxpayers' pocket."

Commission chair, state Finance Sec. Tom Cook, also worries about the money. But he still voted for the recommendation. He says having a more equitable distribution of casino revenue is worthwhile.

"It was a policy decision. The policy decision was easy to make. The financial decision certainly weighed upon me more. My concern was especially in the second year. I would rather have seen it be one year and reevaluate."

The recommendations have lawmakers reevaluate the setup in summer 2015.

These recommendations do have the support of Gov. Jack Markell. The full general assembly will now take a look at those recommendations. The players involved here acknowledge just because a majority of nine people could agree on changes doesn't mean a majority of 21 senators and 42 representatives can.

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