Future of Casino Relief Proposal in Jeopardy - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Future of Casino Relief Proposal in Jeopardy

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - The prospect of Delaware's ailing casino industry getting millions of dollars in relief from the state looks to be in jeopardy.

The money just may not be there. That's what the lawmakers leading the state's budget writing panel are saying as state revenue estimates continue to fall.

A panel in March recommended changing the way Delaware and its casinos split gaming revenue. The change would move $30 million over two years from the state to the casinos.

Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, is leading the charge for that.

"When I talk to my colleagues about the necessity to do something, I find a lot of support," he said. "But at the same time, a lot of my colleagues are very aware of the financial difficulties the state faces right now. So, I, and a lot of them, are in a dilemma."

Those financial difficulties are that since January when Gov. Jack Markell released his budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, revenue estimates have dropped by about $60 million. That could make finding an extra $10 million for FY15, $20 million in FY16, for casinos extremely difficult.

Ed Sutor, CEO of Dover Downs, says his casino is operating at a loss. And without relief from the state, there will likely be spending cuts.

"We either cut marketing or cut payroll," Sutor said. "If we do less revenue, the state gets less money. So, we implore the legislators to please keep that in mind."

Sutor hopes they can find $10 million somewhere in a nearly $4-billion state budget.

The state's budget writing committee is meeting through late part of the week. The legislative session ends June 30. Lawmakers have to approve a budget by then.
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