Delaware’s three racinos have a simple message for lawmakers: Three is enough. State officials, however, have another message: Five is enough.
On the eve of a push in the Delaware legislature for votes on several different proposals for new casino venues, the state’s three current facilities-Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Midway Slots at Harrington Raceway-have launched a public relations campaign to sway votes away from creating any new casinos.
Owners of the three current venues have bitterly opposed any new venues as market saturation that would severely threaten their businesses. They have launched a website touting a self-commissioned study they say shows the state’s citizens to be in agreement with them.
Meanwhile, a separate study report empanelled by Governor Jack Markell says two new casinos would be “most advantageous” for Delaware’s revenue picture. That study was sponsored by the Sports and Video Lottery Commission, a panel comprised of seven state lawmakers, and was conducted by contractor TMG Consulting, with the goal of examining the potential economic impact of adding new casinos in the state.
While favoring new stand-alone casinos, TMG’s report recommended that no new racetrack casinos be created-a finding intended to protect purse money at the three current racinos and prevent saturation in the racing industry overall. It specifically recommended against approval of one of the two proposals supported by powerful lawmakers, the DelPointe racetrack and resort in Sussex County, which the panel said would be too close to Maryland’s Ocean Downs.
Supporters of new casinos-they have been proposed on the waterfront in the city of Wilmington in addition to DelPointe and elsewhere-criticized the poll as slanted in its language. For instance, critics say, respondents were told that “as many as eight additional casinos have been proposed” and were asked simply if they were in favor of that or not.
The operators pointed to other results showing that majorities of respondents stated opposition to the main proposals in Sussex County (53 percent opposed) and the city of Wilmington (63 percent against).