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Charles Town braces for loss of casino revenue

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — As a result of the recent decline in revenue at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, the city of Charles Town has made budget adjustments and is relying on other funds for expenditures, according to Michael Slover, chairman of the city’s finance committee.

An audit performed last year by Gibbons and Kawash, a Charleston accounting firm, found that the Hollywood Casino experienced a decline of $90 million in revenue from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2013.

To combat the fall in revenue, Charles Town has been projecting less each year in order to reduce the impact of decreasing revenue, Slover said.

According to the city’s levy estimate documents, between fiscal years 2013 and 2015, gaming income fell $311,068. Gaming income is used for capital improvements.

Video lottery funds, which are used for day-to-day operations, dipped another $131,129.

However, Slover said, since these were budgeted figures, they are subject to change.

In addition to adjustments, Slover said the city’s budget is relying on funds from other sources of revenue that would offset the decline in revenue.

At the same time that casino revenue is in decline, both business and occupation tax and property taxes are increasing, Slover said.

“While it might not be at the same rate, it is still increasing,” he said.

Between fiscal years 2013 and 2015, property taxes and business and occupation tax increased from $1.3 million to $1.4 million, according to the city’s levy budget documents.

Al Britton, general manager of Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, also said adjustments have been made in regard to the loss in revenue.

Britton cited the recent competition in Maryland as the No. 1 contributor for the loss in revenue, because of the loss in customers traveling from the tri-state area to the casino to gamble.

“It was something we had prepared for over the course of time,” he said. “We put a lot of emphasis on our red carpet customer service training.”

In addition to the loss in revenue, the number of employees at the Hollywood Casino has also declined since 2010.

From 2010 to 2014, the number of employees fell from 2,300 to around 1,670, according to Britton.

Britton said through the years the reduction of employees has been through the absorption of old positions.

However, the layoffs last October were due to the new poker room that opened in Maryland, Britton said.

While Britton said no more anticipated layoffs are expected, he said through the decline in revenue, employee benefits have also not been affected.

“The thing that sets us apart is our customer service. We feel like we are in a great position to compete,” he said.

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