Delaware Won't Tinker With Racetrack Smoking Ban

Delaware legislators on June 26 voted not to permit debate on a bill that would have exempted racetrack casinos from a statewide indoor smoking ban.

The Wilmington News Journal reported that House Republicans, who hold a majority in the House, voted not to allow a debate or vote on the bill during the two days left in the General Assembly session.

Republicans said they said they want the smoking ban to go into effect so state officials can measure its effect on businesses such as casinos or bars.

The amendment by Rep. Robert Quillen to the Clean Indoor Air Act would have exempted racetracks and casinos if they provide non-smoking areas. The state's three racetracks are Delaware Park and Standardbred facilities Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway.

The racing industry fears that a smoking ban will chase away patrons, which in turn will reduce slots play and pari-mutuel handle. The end result, the industry says, will be a reduction in purse money, most of which now comes from slot machines.

The bill from Quillen, whose district includes Harrington, would have undone some changes to allow smoking in bars, motorsports speedways, horse racetracks, and casinos. Casino owners say some patrons will no longer come to Delaware if they cannot smoke while they gamble.

Two busloads of employees and horsemen were on hand from Dover Downs, said Denis McGlynn, president and chief executive officer of Dover Downs Entertainment.