State must protect revenue-generating busineses
Here in Delaware we have a proud tradition of working with our business community, which is one of the reasons our state has become the preeminent place for incorporation. These relationships have translated into jobs, state revenue and healthy communities.
But our strategy for economic development has gone astray. State officials are chasing the next DuPont or MBNA, but neglecting to protect the jobs on which working Delawareans currently rely.
Three of our state’s larger enterprises - Harrington Raceway, Dover Downs and Delaware Park - collectively employ thousands of people. Still more jobs are tied to the horse racing industry and the multitude of subsidiary businesses that support the racinos.
It was not long ago that Harrington Raceway, Dover Downs and Delaware Park seemingly set new revenue records with each passing year. Those days are gone.
The legalization of gambling in neighboring Pennsylvania and Maryland has resulted in new casinos and a saturation of the regional market that has siphoned off patrons and gaming dollars from Delaware’s venues.
The increased competition, in combination with the recession and the high state gaming taxes, have created a financial storm the racinos are having trouble weathering. Less than two months ago, Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment reported a first quarter loss with notable declines in both lodging and gaming revenue. Harrington Raceway and Delaware Park are also experiencing declining revenue and severe financial stress. All three could soon be facing layoffs or even more extreme action.
The racinos are the state’s fourth-largest source of revenue. Combined with the people they employ, their welfare is extremely important to the health and vitality of our Delaware economy.
We need to take action to ensure Harrington Raceway, Dover Downs and Delaware Park remain viable enterprises, contributing to the state’s coffers and supporting Delaware’s working families.
Rep. Harold “Jack” Peterman