High taxes threaten jobs at Delaware Casino

May 27, 2013 10:19 AM

Dover Downs Casino & Racetrack moved from being a small Delaware trotting track to a major gambling facility over the course of its history beginning in 1969.

By the middle 2000s, the facility joined other top gaming centers with a half-dozen major expansions that included a 500-room hotel and a relationship with MGM Resorts International whereby the two companies could share customer program rewards.

But, as most lawmakers will insist, the primary reason for legalizing gambling is to raise funds. That’s what Dover Downs does for the state of Delaware…it raises funds for the state coffers.

“At what cost?” asked Dover Downs President Ed Sutor. He warned that the Commonwealth could be hurting itself by boosting the gambling taxes. In recent weeks, casino officials have been meeting with legislators and members of Gov. Jack Markell’s administration in hopes of pointing out the unintended consequences of the state’s increasing the gambling taxes.

During the first quarter, Sutor pointed out, Dover Downs experienced a loss of $283,000. That compared with last year’s first quarter profit of $2.4 million.

Operating at a loss, casino executives said, means cutbacks. Without some tax modifications, they said, the casino would lay off hundreds of workers and shutter some of its restaurants.

The operating company now has $60 million of debt and is facing increasing competition from new casinos in Maryland.

Without help, Tim Horne, Dover Downs CFO told the News Journal newspaper, there will be “draconian” cuts beginning next month.  

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