Threatening casino employee layoffs, Delaware’s gambling industry is again asking for relief on paying state taxes.


Threatening casino employee layoffs, Delaware’s gambling industry is again asking for relief on paying state taxes.


However, the administration and legislative leaders have made no indications that they intend to move toward rolling back casino taxes and licensing fees.

At a June 13 meeting of the state’s Video Lottery Advisory Council, a panel made up of casino executives and gaming vendors, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino CEO Ed Sutor said all three of the state’s casinos are suffering, and not one has yet made a profit on table games since they were introduced a year ago.

Calling the casino industry’s financial situation dire, Sutor said Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway and Casino didn’t have the cash on hand to pay the collective $13.5 million table games licensing fee due to the state in the first quarter of 2011.

“Each of us had to go to our banks and borrow that money because we did not have enough cash flow,” he said.

Losses almost certainly can be blamed on increased competition from Pennsylvania, Sutor said, where table games also became legal last year, and Maryland, where two new slots casinos have opened within easy reach of the Delaware line.

In it’s first-quarter report to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment reported a loss of $38,000 after taking in $59.4 million in revenues.

Sutor said the only way he sees Dover Downs getting back on its feet is by cutting marketing expenses, which would be counterproductive, or reducing staff.

“We don’t want to go with layoffs, but what choice do we have?” he said. “We’re hoping the administration understands the seriousness of the financial situation.”

There’s little indication that Sutor’s pleas have resonated with Gov. Jack Markell.

Brian Selander, the governor’s spokesman, said the casinos, including Sutor, agreed to the table games licensing fees and tax structure just two years ago.

“We’re not that far away form the deal that they, with their forecasting and their economic analysis and their projections, said they were OK with,” he said.

The table games licensing fee and tax structure will not be changed in the remaining days of this year’s legislative session, which ends June 30, Selander said.

Some lawmakers sympathize with the gambling industry’s arguments.

Rep. Darryl Scott (D-Dover), who shares a district with scores of Dover Downs employees, is concerned that Delaware’s tax rate on casinos is too burdensome.

“People say this is a monopoly. It’s not; it’s a highly regulated industry that has competition throughout the region and we put them at a competitive disadvantage,” Scott said.

However Scott said he realizes that, without backing from the administration, nothing will move in the near future.

“If the administration isn’t going to support it, we’re not going to get anything done in the next three weeks,” he said. “It’s something that’s worthy of conversation in January.”

Email Doug Denison at doug.denison@doverpost.com