Senate OKs casinos offsetting license cost with investment

Sam HautGovernment, Headlines


Senate unanimously passes casino licensing bill

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would lower licensing fees for casinos that make capital investments.

Senate Bill 64, sponsored by Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, would allow the casinos, which under a 2018 bill were required to pay a $3 million license fee to operate table games, to forgo portions of that fee if they pay for capital investment.

The bill also moves the date casinos would have to pay this fee from June 30 to Dec. 31.

Paradee said the bill was supported by all three casinos in Delaware and the Standardbred and Thoroughbred Horsemen.

It had bipartisan support, with eight Democrat and six Republican cosponsors.

The bill doesn’t have a fiscal note because it won’t impact the budget.

Secretary of Finance Rick Geisenberger said that if he could have done the 2018 bill over again, they would have made sure all the money from the table gaming license went towards capital investment.

Paradee asked Geisenberger if the program has made any money for the state, and the secretary said in response that to date hasn’t.

“The benefits that the casinos were to realize in exchange for making additional capital investments and marketing investments in the 2018 deal have worked exactly as planned,” Geisenberger said. “Which is basically, they would get a benefit, and half of that would have to be reinvested into the casinos.”

After the passage of Senate Substitute for Senate Bill 144, casinos were only able to deduct from that fee by spending money to add jobs or for marketing expenses.

Over the past three years, because of the pandemic, that fee was waived because of the lower f revenue casinos were generating, but the money will be due starting this June.

Geisenberger said table games were hit the hardest during the pandemic because the social distancing requirements limited casinos to three people at a table designed for six. It led to mass layoffs of dealers and was followed by casinos being unable to hire enough people bring their numbers back to pre-pandemic levels.

Sen. Nicole Poore, D-Delaware City, asked Paradee whether the capital improvements would go towards the horseman paddock area, and Paradee said they could.

The bill has now been sent to the House for consideration. 

Also Tuesday, the Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 31, recognizing March 31 as International Transgender Day of Visibility.

All Democrats voted in favor. Five Republicans didn’t vote. Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Laurel, voting against it.

It had previously passed the House by a voice vote.

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