With declining revenues and a lack of profits being generated from table games, Delaware’s three casinos are looking for relief, and industry leaders are hoping it comes in the form of tax reductions and the elimination of annual licensing fees.


With declining revenues and a lack of profits being generated from table games, Delaware’s three casinos are looking for relief, and industry leaders are hoping it comes in the form of tax reductions and the elimination of annual licensing fees.

In its annual report due to state officials next week, the Video Lottery Advisory Council will outline a set of recommendations it believes will address the issues Delaware casinos currently face.

Included are the elimination of a $6.75 million annual table games licensing fee and a $4 million annual sports betting licensing fee, which are split between the three casinos.

On top of that, casino executives from Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Harrington Raceway & Casino and Delaware Park are asking legislators to cut the state’s table game tax rate in half, bringing it down from 34 percent to 14 percent, which is the current rate in Pennsylvania.

“We have one of the highest tax rates in the Mid-Atlantic area, said Ed Sutor, CEO of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and the chairman of the Video Lottery Advisory Council. “We can’t compete with the existing casinos in other states because their rates are so much lower. With the Arundel Mills casino slated to open in Maryland next June and the potential to lose additional business, we’re going to be put in a more precarious position.”

Sutor said all three casinos have seen 15 straight quarters of declining slot revenues since Pennsylvania opened its slots, and with 40 percent of Delaware’s casino business coming from Maryland, the Arundel Mills site will be a massive hit.

“All we’re asking is for them to consider making it a more level playing field to compete,” he said.

Sutor said 50 percent of the casinos’ revenue goes toward the fixed licensing fees and another 40 percent goes to table game payroll.

“When you add the two together, there’s really nothing left,” he said.

Sutor said he can’t predict what the legislative outcome will be, but state officials did agree to listen to the council’s concerns.

“We’re happy that they’re at least listening,” he said. “If nothing happens though, and Arundel Mills comes in, I’d hate to think of what things will be like for the three casinos.”

Brian Selander, a spokesman from the governor’s office, said state officials will continue talks with casino industry heads, but sweeping reforms are unlikely.

“It’s not surprising that they would ask to have its financial obligations reduced,” he said. “We are interested in having a conversation on a thoughtful approach to enhance their competitive advantage, but we do not have the resources or the inclination for a large-scale tax payer handout.”

Sutor said if the state takes no action, the casinos will have to cut back on marketing and personnel.

“We don’t want to do that,” he said. “Seventy-five percent of 1,400 people we hired last year are from Delaware.”

The council’s report is due to the state’s Finance Director Tom Cook by Nov. 5.