Sports betting profits up, but casino operator not happy

    The leader of Dover Downs casino isn’t as excited as state officials at how much money sports betting is earning, even though revenue has already exceeded projections for the entire year.

    Earlier this week, Delaware revenue officials announced that the state had made $830,000 on sports betting on NFL games.  That’s about $330,000 more than what the state projected it would earn from a full football season of sports betting.

    While that might be exciting news for state officials watching the bottom line, it’s not as exciting for president and CEO of Dover Downs Ed Sutor.  “It’s not producing nearly enough revenue to justify what we spent on building the place,” says Sutor.  The “place” is Dover Downs new sports book facility, which cost $5-million to build.

    He says if they had it to do over again, with the knowledge that the courts would limit Delaware’s sports betting options to just parlay bets on NFL games, they would not have spent that much money on the facility.  “It all goes back to that federal court decision, which really turned our sports betting season into just 17 weeks.”  Sutor says the NFL season isn’t long enough for the casino to get a return on their investment.

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    Part of the initial pitch to get sports betting approved by state lawmakers was that it would improve overall casino revenue -and thereby state revenue- through cross-over play.  Sports bettors would come into the casino and be drawn to play the slots, or more likely, their significant others would play the slots while they watched games they were wagering on.  Sutor says there has been some crossover betting, but the  impact of that is “rather insignificant.”  He says, “I’m sure sports betting did not hurt the slot revenue, that’s for sure.”

    As far as the potential for future crossover betting from the sports book to the casino, Sutor says it would be much more likely if the casino were offering table games.  He says sports betting and table games draw the same demographic of bettors, men.  “Sports betting is about 90% male, and table games is about 80% male, so we’re expecting a much better crossover in the future.”  State officials are in the process of developing procedures to implement table games at Delaware casinos.

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