To improve the fortunes of Delaware's casinos, lawmakers have proposed reducing the state's share of gaming revenue.

The legislation would save the casinos about $20 million a year by reducing the state’s cut of gross table game revenue from 29.4 percent to 15 percent. The state would also eliminate its table game licensing fee and would share the cost of vendor fees. 

The three casinos, which contribute more than $200 million to the state budget annually, have reported low revenues due to the recession and increased competition from neighboring states. To help fill a budget deficit in 2009, the state also increased its share of gross revenue from slot machines from 36.8 percent to 43.5 percent.

Senate Bill 220, sponsored by Sen. Brian Bushweller, was developed following recommendations from a study by the Lottery and Gaming Commission. 

Bushweller said that the state can’t afford not to help the casinos, as they create jobs and are a major revenue stream for the state.

“At its heart, this is a jobs bill because Delaware Park, Dover Downs and the casino at Harrington Raceway either directly or indirectly employ thousands of our friends and neighbors,” Bushweller said. “If we don’t try to fix some of the things the state has done that, along with increased out-of-state competition, are undercutting those businesses, we could see dramatic job losses and that’s something that we can’t afford either as a state or as caring neighbors.”

The legislation, currently assigned to the Senate Finance Committee, also asks for an independent report, commissioned by Secretary of Agriculture, to examine the harness and thoroughbred industries.

“I think this bill represents an honest first step that makes the state a better business partner with our gaming industry while ensuring that we can meet our financial obligations as a state,” Bushweller added.