Bill Would Expand Gaming Venues in Delaware

Legislation introduced in the Delaware House of Representatives this month would allow "qualified entertainment venues" to have video lottery terminals, revenue from which would be used for community redevelopment. Currently, only the state's three racetracks are permitted to have VLTs and slot machines.

Venues that would permitted to offer gaming are vessels, barges, or other floating facilities that are secured to boat-docking facilities. The facility, the bill says, must be able to accommodate at least 1,000 machines.

According to figures provided by the Delaware Lottery Commission, through April 29, 5,151 machines at the three tracks -- Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway -- generated $2.1 billion in play, and $170.8 million in net proceeds. Delaware Park and Dover Downs each have 2,000 machines, while Harrington has 1,151.

Delaware Park, located in the northern part of the state in proximity to Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, accounted for $1.1 billion -- roughly half -- of total play for the four-month period.

The legislation that calls for a gaming expansion caught the eye of one New Jersey community. Today's Sunbeam, a Salem County newspaper, reported that a proposed VLT barge could be linked to a new marina in Penns Grove, N.J., which is located on the Delaware River not far from Wilmington, Del. The official Delaware state line extends almost to the New Jersey shoreline.

The newspaper reported that Penns Grove officials and a Delaware company propose that a gaming barge be located off a pier that is part of a $24-million redevelopment project in the depressed community. The barge would be directly connected with New Jersey, not Delaware.

In New Jersey, casino gambling is legal only in Atlantic City. In this case, the facility would actually be in Delaware because of the odd border law between the two states.