State gambling industry takes hit during virus outbreak

DOVER — There’s no sure bet on how coronavirus will ultimately affect Delaware’s gambling, gaming and lottery industry.

The pandemic’s eventual length and final deadly spread are uncertain.

Since the middle of March when an official emergency was declared, there have been limited revenue gains and precipitous losses.

Casino style online iGaming net revenue rose by 78% in March compared to the same 2019 time period, but the $515,000 take offered little solace to huge setbacks elsewhere.

Vernon Kirk, director of the Delaware Lottery.
Vernon Kirk, director of the Delaware Lottery.

“The good news is that iGaming was up like crazy,” Delaware Lottery Director Vernon Kirk said on Friday.

“The bad news is that they were really small numbers. March was the best year ever for iGaming but compared to other products it’s pretty small.”

Far more revenue was previously generated from currently shuttered casinos in Dover, Harrington and Wilmington, along with 100 of the 600 retailers closed following the state of emergency ordered on March 12.

“Our sales rep staff have been pulled from the field and are calling on retailers via phone from home,” Mr. Kirk said.

Traditional products sales such as Powerball and Keno have dropped since the worldwide health crisis — weekly averages were $3.9 million from March 1 to March 22, $3.2 million from March 23 to April 12 as the crisis continued.

Fortunately, Mr. Kirk said, profits from football season wagering were “spectacular. That will carry us for a bit.”

Based on past performance, however, there’s more financial pain coming. In April 2019 the state’s share of net proceeds were $307,887 from sports books, $650,139 though table games and $11,370,263 in video lottery, amounting to just over $12.3 million. Operating expenses were subtracted from the proceeds.

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino earned around $5.5 million in net proceeds overall in the same month last year, Harrington Raceway & Casino $3.6 million and Delaware Park $6.7 million.

Updated numbers will be provided at the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council Revenue forecast meeting from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Monday.

Public access to the virtual gathering is available by calling 1-408-418-9388. The access code is 711 053 765 and the password is DEFAC. Online access is available at de.gov/DEFACwebex.

Redemption centers in Division of Revenue offices in Dover, Wilmington and Georgetown are closed. The lottery’s main office at 1575 McKee Road is open, with the outer lobby accessible. There’s a secure window to cash tickets, and social distancing markers on the floor to remind people about staying six feet apart.

“The majority of the Lottery staff are telecommuting, only a very few are in the office to process claims (the public is not allowed inside the office) and to conduct drawings,” Mr. Kirk said.

Delaware Lottery and other businesses are part of a radio station’s “Pay your bills” promotion that involves a $200 daily drawing. In exchange, Delaware Lottery receives advertisement space to promote iGaming and its Loyalty Program.

Selbyville barber wins $10K

Early last week, the lottery office announced that Raymond Perrone, 59-year-old barber and musician from Selbyville, won $10,000 when purchasing a variety of Instant Game tickets.

Mr. Perrone cashed in with a $25 Money Frenzy Instant Game ticket bought at Royal Farms #263 in Selbyville.

A release said Mr. Perrone had played the lottery for 20 years and once won a $5,000 prize playing Instant Games before.

“I just scratched the ticket off and knew I had a winner,” he said. “At first I thought I had won $5,000, but then I saw the double symbol and called my wife. She started yelling, ‘It’s $10,000!’ ”

Said Mr. Kirk, in part, “It’s always exciting to see a longtime Delaware Lottery player win big.”

Mr. Perrone said he plans to deposit his winnings in the bank and use some to pay bills. He claimed the prize at Lottery headquarters on April 8.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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