Dover Downs Posts Quarterly Loss, Still Seeks Legislative Help - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Downs Posts Quarterly Loss, Still Seeks Legislative Help

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Dover Downs Hotel & Casino (Photo: WBOC file) Dover Downs Hotel & Casino (Photo: WBOC file)

DOVER, Del.- With another loss in revenue, Dover Downs Hotel and Casino is saying it may need to cut more jobs.

Ed Sutor, president and CEO of Dover Downs, Inc., says the company cut 72 jobs last year and it will have to do it again soon if revenue projections hold true. He said the first quarter of 2016 ended with a $239,000 loss.

"Where do you think we're going to make up for another shortfall in revenue? By adding people?" he said.

The casino is in a business deal that was written into law when the casino deal was struck. Sutor says it amounts to a revenue sharing model with three partners. Those partners include Dover Downs and the State of Delaware. He says the state currently takes 62 percent of what they make on slots and 30 percent from table games.

He says the company is concerned about competition that is being built in the surrounding area that could hurt the casino more. An MGM Casino is being built outside Washington, D.C.  According to Sutor's numbers, neighboring states in Delaware's casino market take less than 20 percent from Dover Downs' competitors.

Senate Bill 183 was introduced in January and currently sits in the Senate Finance Committee. It would lower the state's share to 15 percent over the next few years.

There is a good amount of bipartisan support for the bill, but there are still some lawmakers who remain vehemently opposed. They say the casino business had almost a decade to prepare itself for a situation like this, and that it is a bailout.

Some taxpayers WBOC spoke with Tuesday were not supportive of the casino's efforts to decrease the rates.

"They are in the business [of taking] people's money," said Charles Benson of Dover. "When you go in there, the majority of people go in there and they lose. For them to be in the red, I don't think they should be bailed out."

The bill also gives credits back to casinos for capital expenditures and licensing fees. Casinos like Dover Downs today pay $3 million to the state for the right to have table games. That money would come back to the casinos under the legislation. Some of those credits would pay for capital expenditures so casinos can keep their facilities up-to-date and continue to compete with other casinos in the area.

WBOC reached out to Gov. Jack Markell's office for comment on the quarterly loss. Courtney McGregor, Markell's press secretary, said the administration is in regular discussions with Delaware's casinos about how to make them more competitive.

"Senate Bill 183 includes a number of ideas that warrant further discussion," she said. "Given the tightness in next year's budget and fiscal impact of this bill, the administration does not endorse SB 183 at this time, but we expect there will be continued conversations on the subject in the coming weeks."

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