Archive for April, 2009

Sussex lawmakers show no support for new racino

April 27, 2009

DOWNSTATE legislators at a Monday, April 27, press conference, spoke out against a proposed Millsboro racino.

Rep. Biff Lee, R-Laurel, and House Minority Whip Danny Short, R-Seaford, say they oppose any new racinos in Delaware. As legislature reconvenes Tuesday, April 28, they also say all bets are off for a proposed casino and family resort in Millsboro: Del Pointe Resort & Racino.

Lee, who voted against releasing the measure from the House Gaming & Parimutuel Committee, said if Del Pointe developers want to put in a racetrack that’s fine, but he said there’s not enough slot players in the state to merit building another gambling venue. He also said he voted against a substitute measure for expanded gambling because “there’s too much stuff in that bill.” He said a simple sports-betting bill would easily pass in the House.

As for the jobs the Del Pointe project might bring, Lee said, “If it runs some places out of business what good is it?”

He said legislators in Maryland are also struggling with whether to allow slots.
Short said the proposed resort and expanded gambling bill are both dead in the water.

“At this point, Del Pointe is being put off. I need to know economically what the financial impact is going to be compared to the rest of the gaming industry,” said Short.

Short favors a study to determine if demand would support another racino. “I think it’s good business to have the impact study. You can’t make these decisions in a vacuum,” he said.

Is the Legislature already gambling with open meetings?

April 16, 2009

IN MARCH, the House passed a bill that allows the public to access General Assembly meetings – except for those held in caucus. While the measure sits in a Senate committee, House lawmakers already met behind closed doors on April 7 for a House Gaming and Parimutuels Committee meeting, led by Chairman John Viola, D-Newark. House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, attended this meeting but later said he should’ve used better judgment. He said he thought the meeting was just Dems only.

He said only after he entered the closed-door session did he realize the meeting consisted of Republicans and Democrats – clearly not just one caucus.

He also said he if he hadn’t met with members of the gaming committee, they would have tabled voting on releasing a substitute gaming measure.

“When Viola called for a 5-minute recess I didn’t know what he was doing. It probably shouldn’t have been done. Nobody knew what Viola was doing. If I would not have agreed to meet them, they probably would’ve tabled the committee,” said Schwartzkopf. Instead, the gaming committee released the substitute measure on a 5-4 vote.

Speaker of the House Bob Gilligan, D-Wilmington, said he wouldn’t suspend Viola for not abiding by House rules. Said Schwartzkopf, “Lesson learned. It looked bad. I wouldn’t do it again.”