Report Reflects Competition Faced by Delaware

Gaming take and pari-mutuel revenue continue to decline at Delaware Park.

Total on-site pari-mutuel wagering at Delaware Park in 2013 totaled $149.2 million, down 4.1% from $155.5 million in 2012, according to the annual report released Feb. 6 by the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission.

The figure includes on-track wagering on live races and simulcasts imported from other tracks. On-track pari-mutuel handle on 81 racing programs at Delaware Park was $5.58 million last year, down 20.3% from $7 million for 94 live racing dates in 2012.

Wagers on racing from other tracks at Delaware Park, which offers year-round full-card simulcasts, last year totaled $34 million, down 12.2% from $38.8 million in 2012. In 1996, the year video lottery terminals were introduced at the track, import handle totaled $97.2 million.

Handle is down at all three tracks in the state; the other two are Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and Harrington Raceway & Casino, both harness facilities. A state legislative committee is currently debating ways to help the casinos deal with declines in revenue brought about by increased competition for gambling dollars in the Mid-Atlantic region, particularly from Maryland and Pennsylvania.

"Surrounding jurisdictions that have added gaming venues continue to impact not only Delaware Park but the southern Delaware harness tracks as well," DTRC executive director John Wayne said in the annual report. "The racing associations have to find ways to make their facilities end-point destinations by offering incentives to customers to ensure their return.

"Customer service is also very important in maintaining their fan base as well. Making racing and their other activities interesting to the fans remains an important aspect."

The number of racing days at Delaware Park has dropped from 149 in 1997 to 81 last year, according to the DTRC report. Thoroughbred purses paid reached a high of $40.8 million for 141 racing days in 2002; last year Thoroughbred purses totaled $18.2 million, a drop of 55.7% in 11 years even with alternative gaming.

The report also provides statistics for the Delaware Certified Thoroughbred Program, which awards bonuses for horses domiciled at farms in the state for at least 90 days prior to March 31 of their 2-year-old year.

DCTP awards totaled $887,226 in 2013, up slightly from $846,843 in 2012. The number of individual horses registered in the program was 270 last year. DCTP awards peaked in 2011 at $1.48 million, when there were 414 individual registered starters.

The racing commission in its annual report said 2,419 urine and blood samples were tested before or after races at Delaware Park in 2013. That included 125 out-of-competition samples for the detection of blood-doping agents.

No out-of-competition test came back positive. For the entire year, there were eight positive tests: five for overages of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone; one for the bronchodilator clenbuterol; one for the steroid testosterone; and one for the Class 1 tranquilizer Nikethamide.