Dover Downs loses money again, will cut 24 positions

DOVER — Dover Downs announced Thursday it will eliminate 24 positions as a result of a $352,000 loss in the first quarter of 2015.

The casino continues to struggle with slot revenues falling once again. The revenues were down 2.5 percent from the first three months of 2014, falling from $39.8 million to $38.8 million.

With table games struggling, the company revealed it will cease those operations from 2 to 8 a.m. Monday to Thursday, starting May 18.

Not all of those job eliminations will be layoffs as some employees will be shifted to currently vacant spots. Executives said they aim to avoid job losses.

“This further cutback is not a pleasant one to make, but unfortunately, in light of our position, we must make it,” said Denis McGlynn, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

Ten positions already were eliminated during the quarter.

Thanks to holding expenses down by more than $2 million, the company actually did better than during the same period last year when it lost a little over $1 million. However, it was not enough to avoid the red ink.

Dover Downs is $38 million in debt, $1 million less than in the previous three months. That sum is due Sept. 30.

The decline follows what has been a trend since Pennsylvania and Maryland added casinos in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

“Earnings reflect competition-related decline in gaming revenues,” Mr. McGlynn said.

Delaware’s video lottery has seen declining revenues in 34 consecutive quarters.

Although hotel occupancy fell from about 80 to 75 percent, Dover Downs’ hotel remains a drawing point.

Club players made more trips and spent more money, a result of either greater confidence or low gasoline prices, Vice President of Finance Timothy Horne speculated.

Casino executives believe competition and high tax rates are causing the industry in Delaware to crater. The casinos can keep only about 39 percent of slot revenue, with the rest divided up among the state, horsemen and vendors.

Supporters, including leaders and some lawmakers, continue to hope for some form of relief from the legislature. A bill that would lower the table game tax rate, eliminate the table game license fee and provide marketing and capital credits is waiting for a Senate hearing, but it is not expected to be debated for several weeks.

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