Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf introduced an amendment June 14 that would cut the financial impact of Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 144 in half.
In April, the Senate passed a bill to offer relief to Delaware’s three casinos, providing them $20 million in tax and fee breaks amid the industry’s concern that it is becoming more difficult to remain profitable and viable. The Senate passed the measure 17 to 3.
Schwartzkopf publicly raised concerns about taking $20 million in state revenue annually out of the budget when the financial problem the casinos face has not been clearly defined. The bill has remained in limbo since its passage in the Senate.
“I have yet to hear that Delaware’s casinos will go under without a $20 million bailout. Surrendering that much money to three private institutions means there would be less money for various programs benefiting seniors, students and people with disabilities, as well as adequately supporting correctional officers, probation and parole officers and other state workers,” said Schwartzkopf.
“But despite my reservations, I have to balance those concerns against the simple fact that the state of Delaware is a business partner with these three casinos. They employ thousands of workers, which means thousands of families would be impacted if they are forced to close or lay off people,” said Schwartzkopf.
Schwartzkopf’s amendment would eliminate the proposed reduction in the state’s share of gross slot machine revenues. It would retain the cut in the state’s share of gross table game revenues from 29.4 percent to 15.5 percent and eliminate of the table game licensing fee. This would provide an estimated $10 million in relief to the three casinos combined.
“This amendment would cut casino relief in half, but still make a long-term, structural change to our agreement with them, which will allow them to be profitable and make investments in their operations. With this structural change and the addition of sports betting, which should attract more patrons and provide even more revenue for the casinos, there would be no reason for them to seek additional relief for years to come,” said Schwartzkopf.