Delaware Poker Players Suffer as Dover Downs Downsizes

Delaware Poker Players Facing Limited Options as Dover Downs Downsizes

Delaware poker players have been dealt a blow after Dover Downs recently closed its selection of gaming tables.

Dover Downs Delaware poker room closes

Delaware poker players now have fewer places to play after Dover Downs removes certain gaming tables. (Image: Cvent)

Announced at the start of June, the move will see the venue’s poker room close and a handful of tables relocated to the main casino floor.

In downsizing its poker room, Dover Downs has also put the kibosh on tournaments. What’s more, dealers without experience in other table games will either have to retrain or find employment elsewhere.

Dover Downs Downsizes Poker Room

Although poker will still be available at the casino, it will be on a much smaller scale. For the new owners of Dover Downs, Twin Rivers, this is a necessary step in order to improve the profitability of the venue.

Following a new tax relief program for Delaware’s three casinos, Twin Rivers took control of Dover Downs. Alongside lower levies on slots and table games, the operator was spared the expense of a $3 million licensing fee.

The company is now aiming to use these tax breaks in tandem with internal changes to help Dover Downs’ failing fortunes.

Over the last five years, the casino has only made an annual profit twice. One of those years was 2018 when it only managed to creep into the black by $30,000.

What’s interesting about the poker room closure is that it comes at a time when sports betting is starting to flourish.

Since becoming one of first states to accept legal sports bets after the fall of PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), operators have profited by as much as $3 million per month.

Analysts believed this level of activity would help all areas of the industry. However, instead of rising tides raising all ships, it seems as though poker is struggling to stay afloat.

Sports Betting Doesn’t Help Delaware Poker Industry

Like its offline counterpart, online poker in Delaware hasn’t fared much better in recent years. In December 2017, the state’s three legal poker sites generated just $18,261 in revenue.

Fast-forward to April 2019 and net profits weren’t much better. Under the 888poker banner, Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway and Delaware Park made just $22,357.

With legal sports betting unable to increase interest in the game, Delaware poker players are now suffering. While there is no suggestion the state’s online network is going to close down, the number of live games will be less than it once was.

The one saving grace is that sports betting in Delaware is still in its infancy. What’s more, Twin Rivers has only been in charge of Dover Downs since July 2018.

Given time, poker may find its way back into the spotlight. For now, however, players will have to make do with a limited number of tables at Dover Downs.

Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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