Harrington races to ready for sports betting

    One Delaware racino is hurrying to get ready to take sports bets should Delaware be allowed to do so, as planned, starting September 1st.
    Harrington Raceway and Casino in Harrington showed off its efforts to get a sports book ready for operation to Governor Jack Markell and others Friday morning.

    One Delaware racino is hurrying to get ready to take sports bets should Delaware be allowed to do so, as planned, starting September 1st.

    Harrington Raceway and Casino in Harrington showed off its efforts to get a sports book ready for operation to Governor Jack Markell and others Friday morning.

    Harrington is not as far along as the state’s other two racinos, Delaware Park and Dover Downs.  While those two venues are already installing big screen televisions and electronic betting boards, Harrington is still painting walls and having electricians wire a horse racing simulcast room that’s being converted .

    “It’s been very tough.” said Harrington CEO Patricia Key. “We had to rip out what we had, because we didn’t have any more room on the (casino) floor.”

    And that means Harrington is investing more in sports betting that its fellow racinos.  Affidavits submitted in Federal Court by racinos CEO’s for the lawsuit involving Delaware’s sports betting plan indicate that Dover Downs is spending 5 million dollars on capital upgrades to ramp up for sports betting, and Delaware Park is spending one million dollars.  Harrington claims its dedicating 6 million to capital expenses, 5 million on converting the simulcast space it created in 1998 into a sports book.

    “In ’98, we put three and a half million into our simulcast, but we just ripped out everything we did out because we’re land locked because of the Delaware State Fair (grounds).” said Key.

    That investment means Harrington, perhaps more than anyone else, needs sports betting to launch as planned on September 1st, rather than get bogged down in the courts.  “It would definitely set us back because with the sports betting itself, we went on a break even basis between taxes and everything and we’re relying on the crossover to the slots. So, we’ll have an investment with no return on t from the get-go if its set back.” said Key.

    The NFL, three other sports leagues and the NCAA are still pursuing an injunction to stop Delaware from taking single game bets until its lawsuit against the state betting plan is heard in December.

    Governor Markell appreciates the efforts Harrington and the other racinos are making to get ready for a September 1st launch. He adds that any delay to that launch also means a delay in the creation of jobs at Harrington and the other gambling venues.  “When you’re in an environment where you’ve got 35 thousand people in Delaware who are unemployed, and you have an opportunity like this to create new jobs, to put people to work, that’s what its all about. We’re excited about that and it will be a relief to see it up and running.”

    Harrington officials says building the sports book has created 75 construction jobs, and once it opens also allow them to offer full time jobs to some seasonal and part time workers and call for and undetermined number of new hires.

    Right now, the focus is on finishing sports book construction.  “We’ve had two months to get ready, so we’re working around the clock.” said Key.

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