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Casino relief compromise clears Delaware House

Delaware Public Media

Legislation giving Delaware’s three casinos financial relief is poised to sail through the General Assembly before session ends.

A compromise bill passed the state House Thursday.

The original legislation sponsored by State Sen. Brian Bushweller (D-Dover) called for a 2 percnet drop in the state's share of slots revenue as part of a package that would have cost Delaware $15 million next year and $20 million annually after that.

But Bushweller struck a deal with House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth).

Schwartzkopf, who had opposed any drop in the state’s share of slots revenue, agreed to a 1 percentage point decrease.

That saves the state $3.6 million the first year and $3.2 million after that. The relief package, which also suspends the table gaming license fee and cuts the state’s share of table game revenue by about 14 percent, will now cost the state $11.4 million the first year and $16.8 million after that.

Schwartzkopf said he decided to make the deal because members of his party support helping the First State’s three casinos before session ends.

“We have a responsibility to make sure not to make them ultra ultra successful, but to make sure they’re successful," he said. "And they keep their employees, that’s the main part. To keep the employees, keep the jobs, maybe even expand the jobs.”

Bushweller, whose district includes two of the First State’s three casinos, said this bill helps support thousands of jobs in the state.

“I think the 1,500 people who work at Dover Downs, the 600 people who down at Midway Slots (in Harrington), all the people who have ancillary businesses that depend on those two casinos, they can breathe a little easier tonight,” he said.

The legislation goes back to the state Senate, where the orginal version passed by a 17-3 margin back in April. It’s expected to pass there again and has Gov. John Carney’s support.

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