Gov. Jack Markell on April 22 said negotiations with the gaming industry over his proposal to reintroduce sports betting in Delaware have made little progress since the start of the legislature’s spring recess last week.


    Gov. Jack Markell on April 22 said negotiations with the gaming industry over his proposal to reintroduce sports betting in Delaware have made little progress since the start of the legislature’s spring recess last week.
    “There hasn’t been a meeting of the minds,” he said Wednesday morning after addressing a state summit on child poverty at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. “We made some additional suggestions that [racino representatives] weren’t really open to.”
    The governor said he would not provide additional details on the negotiations and only would say the talks have not gone well.
    Executives from the state’s three racinos expressed strong opposition to the governor’s plan for sports betting, which would allow up to 13 new gaming venues across the state and raise the state’s share of gambling revenues by eight percentage points.
    Before the recess, House Majority Leader Peter C. Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, put forward a revised version of the sports lottery bill that eliminated the provision for additional venues but preserved the increased state take.
    Schwartzkopf delayed House action on the bill until legislators return to Dover April 28, with the hope the administration and the state’s three racinos could meet over the break and hammer out a compromise.
    However, the governor has indicated he’s unlikely to budge on the core elements of his plan.
    “This is an exclusive franchise granted by the taxpayers,” Markell said. “By law, it belongs to the taxpayers.”
    If no compromise is reached on the governor’s plan, it is likely the legislature will wage a pitched battle over the bill in the coming weeks.
    Markell said new projections from the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council showing the state’s 2010 budget shortfall has increased to $780 million place even more urgency on his sports betting proposal.
    “I don’t want to cut anymore than I already have,” he said. “A $750 million problem has become a $780 million problem and it makes the sports lottery all the more important.”
    Before the recess the governor directed the Office of Management and Budget to identify additional areas where the state could cut costs, but he said he is not yet ready to unveil any of those proposals.