The three casinos in the small eastern state of Delaware could soon be paying less tax after lawmakers provisionally approved legislation late last week that would lower the overall duty on slot revenues by a full percentage point to 42.5%.
According to Friday reports from The News Journal newspaper and local television broadcaster WCAU, the measure sailed through the Delaware House of Representatives by a vote of 35 to four and is now set to be put before the similarly Democratic-controlled Delaware State Senate.
If subsequently passed by the upper legislative chamber and signed into law by Democratic Governor John Carney, the measure would reportedly result in Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, Casino at Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway paying around $11 million less in tax this year. The burden would purportedly fall by about an additional $6 million in 2019 as the legislation also includes a 13.9% cut to 15.5% on the tax for table games while allowing venues to invest in their properties in order to avoid paying an annual license renewal fee.
Delaware State Senator, Brian Bushweller, reportedly told The News Journal that the three local casinos employ almost 3,000 people and that the tax cut would help the venues to stay afloat as they compete against rivals in the neighboring states of Maryland and Pennsylvania.
“They can breathe a little easier tonight knowing that the ball is back in their court,” Bushweller reportedly told the newspaper. “They’ve got a good future.”
The News Journal reported that Delaware has raised the tax rate on slots seven times since legalizing the machines in the mid-1990s with the rate eventually reaching 43.5% in 2009 as the state endeavored to close a budget gap. However, this charge was almost double the original 1994 rate and prompted the industry to begin actively lobbying for tax relief.
“If you look at what the industry has generated for the state over the years, it’s close to $4 billion,” Denis McGlynn, Chief Executive Officer for Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, reportedly told the newspaper. “We are in a partnership with the state along with the horseracing industry and I think this legislation shows lawmakers are grasping that we need all three partners to be healthy. Our financial situation last year shows that’s not the case.”
The News Journal reported that Dover Downs Hotel and Casino is the only public casino in Delaware and recorded a loss of over $1 million for 2018 after paying out some $75 million to the state and the Delaware Standardbred Owners Association.