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Despite state’s big bite, casino committed to community

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Patricia Key

Patricia Key
Guest Columnist

As another legislative session approaches closure, the casino industry in Delaware continues to vie for relief. While many Delawareans have heard this discussed ad nauseam, I can assure you that those of us in the industry are equally exhausted by the process. We continue to pursue relief for an industry that is one of the leading private-sector job providers in the state, with more than 4,000 employees at the three casinos, and is the fourth-largest source of revenue for the state.

For those opponents of relief after seven previous tax increases on the industry, I ask if they could own and sustain a business that could survive retaining less than 40 percent of revenues after taxes? The industry remains resilient in spite of unprecedented competition as another mega-casino, an MGM property which will be the biggest yet in our neighboring state of Maryland, is primed for opening later this year. The disproportionate revenue-sharing with the state makes the ability to make capital improvements to try to maintain our property and effectively compete with competition in more tax-friendly jurisdictions extremely difficult. In Atlantic City, where New Jersey has just an 8 percent tax on the casinos, competition has crippled the industry and has thus seen four casinos close in the past few years, devastating the livelihood of thousands of employees and communities.

We continue to persevere and remain focused on our bottom line during this highly competitive era and attempt not to let important efforts like our commitment to the community suffer, though as revenues have declined, it is increasingly difficult to maintain commitments at prior levels. At Harrington Raceway and Casino, we proudly remain active with terrific causes such as the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Food Bank of Delaware, Ronald McDonald House, Mid-Del Foundation, First State Animal Center and SPCA, just to name a few. Not only does the company contribute resources and monetarily to many nonprofit organizations, but our employees are strongly encouraged to be involved as well. We currently have a monthly volunteer commitment to the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford location, which has been a rewarding initiative for all involved. Even though there are worthwhile organizations that we aren’t able to aid financially, we make an earnest attempt to allocate resources whenever possible.

I encourage those with an interest in the issue of the casinos pursuing relief to examine the contributions of the industry to the state as a whole in the form of job creation, economic impact, revenue (the casinos contribute nearly $200 million annually to the state) as well as benefit to our horse industry and its impact on agriculture, not to mention our unwavering commitment to our community partners. Because of the intrinsic relationship with all those connected to us, when the casinos suffer, so do many others in our great state. While I am sensitive to the extremely difficult decisions that our legislators have to make, I would be remiss if I didn’t fight for employees and our industry, knowing the net effect of our sustainability and all those we impact. 

Patricia Key is chief operating officer of Harrington Raceway and Casino.

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