Table games at Charles Town casino have generated $78 million

March 03, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Since July, when a dealer laid down the first blackjack card at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, table games have generated $58 million for its owners and $20 million in state and local tax revenue, according to a track official.

General Manager Al Britton revealed those numbers Thursday to the Jefferson County Commissioners as he gave an update on the first six months of table games operations.

"Locally, tables alone have generated $1.7 million for (local) schools, $1.2 million for the county and municipalities, and an additional $1.5 million in (horse racing) purses and $1.2 million in breeders funds in the first six months of operations," he said.

Britton said the casino wouldn't have any business in Jefferson County without the support of the community and local government.

The table games operation opened with 85 tables and a 27-table poker room. There now are 87 tables and a 30-table poker room, Britton said.

"During the countywide referendum in December 2009 that overwhelmingly allowed the games, casino officials promised up to 500 new jobs if the measure won voter approval," he said. "To date, we have hired over 600 new employees."

Included in that number were 470 dealers, who were promised wages of as much as $40,000 a year. Today, average dealer wages are $55,000 a year, Britton said.

Opponents of table games claimed they would cut into revenue from slot machines and racing.

In the first half of 2010, before table games were introduced, slot revenues were down by $20 million and racing revenue was down by $700,000, Britton said. In the second half of the year, after the games were introduced, slot revenues jumped by $1 million and racing revenue increased by $500,000, he said.

"During that same period, slot revenue decreased by 9 percent in Atlantic City and 6 percent in Delaware," Britton said. "I'm glad to report that 2011 has picked up where we left off in 2010."

The casino will open a new lounge featuring a live entertainment stage and a new sports bar this year, he said.

Penn National Gaming Inc. has invested more than $400 million in Jefferson County, Britton said.

"We at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Penn National Gaming are proud of our record of corporate citizenship, community involvement and keeping our promises," Britton said.

"You have a solid, ethical business function," Commissioner Walt Pellish told Britton. "You've done what you said and said what you've done."

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