Unveiling the $10 million Delaware Park casino renovation – The News Journal

Were there showgirls? Yes, there were showgirls, glitteringly bedazzled in costumes that were otherwise a blizzard of white, festooned like swans with snowy feathers.
There was confetti. There was a broad ribbon that existed only to be cut. And then there were the Mummers, large men buried beneath unconvincing orange wigs and dressed like Christmas trees or technicolor jesters, with maybe a back-pack made from a stand-up bass.
The assembled press stood gamely by, as did officials from the Delaware Lottery.
And if this all seemed festive for 9 a.m. on a Thursday, maybe there was good reason.
Jan. 25 was grand reopening day for the Delaware Park casino. After a year and $10 million in renovations, a Stanton casino formerly known for its dark carpets, its orange light and long banks of slot machines, had fully leaped into the new millennium with a first-floor renovation inspired by the glamour of modern Sin City.
“We’re bringing Vegas inspiration right here in Delaware,” announced Terry Glebocki, president and general manager of Delaware Park Casino & Racing, which was first founded as a racetrack in 1937.
The recent renovation began at the beginning of 2023, a little over a year after Delaware Park changed ownership. The Rickman family, which had controlled the racetrack and casino for almost four decades, sold the facility to a joint venture between Rubico Gaming and a private equity firm called Clairvest Group.
Last year:$10 million renovation boosts Delaware Park casino. Here’s what’s new.
Now, finally, the renovation is almost complete.
Glebocki, standing in front of a bank of slot machines, said the space where she stood was once an ill-used and mostly vacant room reserved for back-of-house staff.
“We stored some scissor lifts in it,” she said, inspiring laughter. Now, she said, the slot machines they’ve added here are premium machines that would be the envy of other casinos.
“On social media they’d say ‘If you know, you know,’” she said. “People love these machines. Nobody can compete with the amount of premium slot product we have right here on our floor.”
What does a Vegas-inspired renovation in Delaware mean?
In part, it means glitzy carpets busy enough to stress out a bee. It means brighter lights, and bright bar surfaces with slot machines embedded inside. It means brighter everything. There’s a glass menagerie of chandeliers, and about 1,500 new gaming machines spread out across an expanded and opened-out floor space
There’s a new suite of high-roller games and a mess of new food that includes slow-cooked brisket cheesesteaks and bowls of Vietnamese pho.
There’s a bank of baccarat tables — a game wildly popular in China and across Southeast Asia, especially in gambling-fueled Macau. There’s late night “pan-Asian” food from a new late-night fast-casual spot called Foo Noodle.
Delaware Park is also newly open on Christmas, a popular day for Asian Americans to drop everything and hit the slots.
The casino offers blackjack tables, of course: the kind where you touch the cards and turn them over. But there are also video blackjack tables with a televised female robo-host who offers a reasonable facsimile of looking bored when no players are present. She looks nervously from side to side before smiling and asking, perhaps too suggestively, “Don’t you want to play with me?”
And there are bank after bank of what slots manager Andrew Gomeringer assures us are the most in-demand slot machines in the country. Lightning Buffalo Link slots. NFL slots. Dragon Link and Monopoly slots. If you know, you know.
These are slots you won’t find as easily in neighboring New Jersey or Maryland or pretty much anywhere in the country, said Gomeringer — the result of a privilege, or quirk, of Delaware. In Delaware, casinos pay much more in taxes to the state than in neighboring states like New Jersey. But they don’t pay direct fees on premium slots.
In other states, casinos might pay slot machine vendors a daily usage fee or a percentage of revenue for each machine. This means premium slots cost a lot more, and casino operators have an incentive to bring in fewer of them. But in Delaware, vendors get their cut through agreements with the Delaware Lottery, not with an individual casino.
And so Delaware Park has every reason to get the best slots, the most premium slots.
An entire lounge is devoted only to the games of premium slot maker Aristocrat, filled with human-high slots themed for dragons or adorned with drawings of broad-chested men. There are slots themed for bygone days of China, and slots that look like a computerized rainbow is exploding.
Gosh, it’s loud: This is what winning sounds like in 2024. It’s what losing sounds like, too.
But though the casino has added more than 200 “premium” slots on its first floor, the casino is more spacious than it was previously, said slots manager Gomeringer.
During the pandemic, casino staff noticed that customers enjoyed having more room and more privacy, Gomeringer said.
The old-school casino wisdom, he said, is to cram as many slot machines as you can together in a line — thus maximizing earnings potential. But customers don’t like feeling cramped, he said. One previous room, which consisted of two tight banks of machines jammed closely together in an X, was barely used.
Now, the same space has slot machines spaced out in shorter rows, or arranged in a circular “carousel.”
This does mean fewer slots per square feet, Gomeringer said. But to make up for this, the casino opened out more floor space by removing a boutique store and a cafe that weren’t needed. Delaware Park also opened out a lot of space that was formerly used by back-of house staff, and opened these out to slots as well.
The result is an airier space, but still enough slots that seats are rarely more than 75% occupied — a happy ratio that means customers won’t have to fight to find a slot machine.
The in-house brewery, 1937, has expanded its options. So has the deli, called Rooney’s, which now offers a brisket cheesesteak whose meat is roasted slow-and-low overnight in an electric oven. Head chef Steve Demilio says the steak has already ballooned into the most popular food item in the entire casino. A thousand brisket cheesesteaks went out the door in the first month alone, he said.
We did order one of those cheesesteaks on our way out. And we’ll admit: We thought its slow-cooked meat resembled pot roast more than steak.
But that cheesesteak, like much at Delaware Park Casino, is new. The chandeliers, once treasured antiques, are now new. The premium slots, the high-stakes tables, the baccarat, the noodles — all are new.
“The antiques are gone,” said Globecki, “It’s glitz and glamour now.”
Matthew Korfhage is business and development reporter in the Delaware region covering all the things that touch land and money, and the many corporations that call the First State home. A longtime food writer, he also tends to turn up with stories about tacos, oysters and beer. Send tips and insults to mkorfhage@gannett.com.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *