Skip to main content

Newark Life

Major updates at Delaware Park

May 31, 2023 01:27PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
By Ken Mammarella
Contributing Writer

Delaware Park is investing $10 million to update its casino, including rearranging slot machines to give players more room, adding baccarat and high-limit blackjack tables, creating a noodle bar and redecorating from the ceiling to the floor. A random sampling of patrons on a spring morning show that the work is paying off.

“I’ve won more with this new look,” said Wanda, a resident of Maryland’s Harford County enjoying the slots with her sister, Patsy.

“It’s a cleaner look,” said Patsy. “I want to play better.” Delaware Park’s privacy policy means that their surnames can’t be used.

“I love the carpet,” said Marlene, a Newark resident, also interviewed on the slots floor. “It makes me feel great.”

“The biggest enhancement for us is the new game layout,” said Jennifer Oberle-Howard, director of advertising and public relations. “Following the trend to move away from linear slot bank configuration, we now have pods in the shape of diamonds, squares, footballs and rounds, allowing extra space and comfort for our guests. Additionally, newer themes are being added on a regular basis including Aristocrat’s Jackpot Carnival and Light & Wonder’s highly anticipated game, Dragon.”

“We are adding four Macau-style baccarat tables featuring Dragon Bonus and five Treasure bonus bets plus two high-limit blackjack tables,” she said.

Good luck at Foo Noodle Bar

The number of slot machines is going from 1,902 at the end of 2022 to about 1,800 when the rearrangement is completed, she said, adding that the casino has an internal app for finding machines. “Guests can ask any slot attendant or Player Rewards Club representative to reference the electronic machine list if they are looking for a particular machine that may have moved.”

The Foo Noodle Bar will replace some office space near the high-stakes area. Foo is the Chinese character for “good luck,” said Paul Heretakis, the Las Vegas architect hired to design the new look. It will have “high bar-style seating, and offerings will include bar type food also,” Oberle-Howard said.

“Besides a fresh new look, the High Limit Bar will be accessible from all sides, have more seating capacity, offer bar-top slots and poker machines,” she said.

Work also involves rebranding, from Casino at Delaware Park to Delaware Park Casino & Racing.

The construction began in January and is planned to end in July, hopefully by the Fourth, she said.

Let’s refresh the place’

Heretakis, owner of WESTAR Architects, started work on the project in October of 2021. “ ‘Let’s refresh the place,’ ” he recalls being told, and also being asked to make it “brighter, more comfortable, welcoming and warm.”

The most dramatic visual change involves the carpeting, going from mute and small florals to bold and large abstracts. The overall color scheme is lighter and brighter, the feeling more modern.

Other visual changes include whitewashed walls (instead of brick), gray columns (instead of dark oak), silvery ceiling tiles (instead of gray), sconces (instead of chandeliers), red and white chairs around the gaming tables (instead of black chairs) and rebranded felt for table games.

The work also includes infrastructure upgrades, such as updating the air conditioning; improving the electrical and data needs for what Heretakis called “the latest and greatest” in slots; and upgrading lighting, with LEDs that are crisper and cheaper to power.

Finishing touches include some elements that reflect Delaware Park’s history as a racetrack. He said that means light fixtures with horseshoes, art inspired by the the track and photos of horses.

Popular with employees, too

The work covers the casino’s first floor and in the future might hit the second, Oberle-Howard said.

Delaware Park has a complicated schedule, or, rather, schedules. The slots are the first floor are open 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, plus continuously from 8 a.m. Thursdays to 4 a.m. Mondays. Oberle-Howard said that staffing issues mean that the second floor has more limited hours: 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, plus continuously from 8 a.m. Thursdays to 3 a.m. Sundays.

Table games run 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, plus continuously from 10 a.m. Thursdays to 4 a.m. Mondays. Poker runs 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily. Sports bettering runs 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends. Simulcast horse racing runs 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Delaware Park Racetrack opened in 1937 (providing the name for its brewpub). It entered a new era in 1995 with video lottery terminals (legalese at the time for slot machines). Parlay sports betting started in 2009, followed by table games in 2010, online gaming within Delaware state lines in 2013 and full sports betting in 2018.

Heretakis is pleased that the redesign has been well-received by both patrons he has chatted with out on the floor and with employees as well.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Newark Life's free newsletter to catch every headline