Dover Downs Casino new owner closes poker room

In Delaware, new management at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino has decided to close its 18-table poker room formerly located on the casino’s third floor.

Now owned by Twin River Worldwide Holdings (NYSE: TRWH), the 14-year-old casino and 50-year-old .625-mile harness horse racing track, which is surrounded by Dover International Speedway (owned and operated by Dover Motorsports), has reportedly moved the poker tables to the table games pit on the casino floor.

Rumors disproven:

According to a Saturday report from the Delaware State News, rumors were circulating that the poker staff in its entirety had been let go, however, according to casino management, only one person was laid off.

In a Friday statement, Vice President and General Manager for Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Nicholas Polcino Jr., explained…

“Today is our first day of poker on the floor, so we do have poker! There will be NO poker room on the third floor anymore. The Poker tables now on the Casino floor answer to table games and no longer operate as a separate entity.”

“All other personnel (Poker Director is no longer with the company) that could be transferred to table games were transferred. The employees that only had poker experience have been given the opportunity to learn other games as well so they are able to transfer between various games if they desire,” added Polcino.

Tournaments canceled:

Casino staff reportedly said that closure of the third-floor room, which was once used as a place for people to watch simulcast horseracing, resulted in poker tournaments being canceled several weeks ago.

For a while, there seemed to be some confusion as to whether or not the poker room was actually closing, as it was initially denied by a Twin River spokeswoman, only to have a second spokeswoman later confirm that table games would no longer be hosted in the room, according to the Delaware State News.

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Sale finalized:

Announced in July 2018, Rhode Island Casino operator, Twin River, finalized the sale, went public and merged with Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment this past March. According to the join 7BALL CC t announcement at the time, the deal reportedly saw the two companies exchange shares equal to 7.225% of the equity in the combined company, as reported by Delaware Online.

Touted by officials at Dover Downs as a lifesaver for the casino, the merger included the property’s 500-room hotel (the state’s largest) and banquet hall, while the 1-mile concrete track used for NASCAR motor racing events, Dover International Speedway, remains owned by Dover Motorsports, which in 2002 cut ties with the gaming company.

In the red:

After in 2015 suffering a $700,000 loss, which was preceded by a dismal $13,000 profit the year prior, 72 positions were eliminated and table games operations during early weekday mornings were also shut down by Dover Downs. More recently, in January 2018, with their fourth-quarter results for 2017 in, Dover Downs reported a $1,068,000 loss for the year, versus a $786,000 profit reported for the year prior. Total revenues for 2017 were said to be nearly $177 million compared to $182 million in 2016, according to an earlier report.

The deal with the Rhode Island-based company, that in addition to Dover Downs, owns and manages two Rhode Island casinos, River Casino Hotel in Lincoln and Tiverton Casino Hotel in Tiverton, along with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, Mississippi and horse-racing track, Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colorado, came on the heels of legislation signed by Gov. John Carney on June 30, 2018. 

Saving legislation:

The tax relief bill decreases the state’s share of revenue from slot machines by about one percentage point, from 42.5 percent or 41.5 percent. The new law also cuts the table game tax in half, to about 15 percent, suspends the $ 3 million table gaming licensing fee and will reportedly cut, casinos’ tax burden $16.8 million by 2020.

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Additionally. a provision in the casino relief bill allows for the state’s casinos to specifically operate video lottery terminals (VLTs) and to be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The casino made fast work of taking advantage of the latter when it announced last December that it would be open on Christmas Day for the first time ever in the small Mid-Atlantic state’s history.

Sports betting:

In June last year, Dover Downs became the first state east of the Mississippi River to offer single-game betting on sports courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and not long after had already reported that the new industry was already doing well for it and the state’s other two casinos.

New venue:

Late last month, the Delaware casino opened its new steakhouse lounge, Michele’s Steakhouse Lounge, which is an expansion of the existing Michele’s restaurant located on the first floor of the hotel and casino. Situated just off the main hotel’s entrance, the restaurant lounge has a new menu, along with weekly live music.