Canadian investment group completes acquisition of Delaware Park


Toronto-based Clairvest and its equity fund completed its previously announced acquisition of the Delaware Park casino and racetrack from the Rickman family.

Clairvest Group Inc. (CVG) announced that it, together with Clairvest Equity Partners VI completed the previously announced acquisition of the scenic property.

Clairvest invested  $71 million for a majority interest in the business and CVG’s portion of the investment is $19 million.

Delaware Park is located in the Stanton-Christiana area between Wilmington and Newark.

The track opened in 1937 under the ownership of a DuPont family member. In 1983, Maryland’s Rickman family, which had real estate holdings, purchased the financially troubled track.

The family never fully redeveloped the  site but profited when Delaware gave the state’s three horse tracks the go-ahead to offer slot machines minus upfront payments that were imposed in other states. At the time, Delaware sites had minimal regional competition.

For a time, Delaware Park owned a vacant hotel (later sold) and acquired a surplus building from New Castle County for its headquarters.

The situation changed as Maryland and Pennsylvania gave the green light to gaming and Delaware increased its share of revenue from casinos during a fiscal crisis.

The sale of Delaware Park had been rumored for years, especially after the Delaware General Assembly approved changes aimed at making casinos more profitable.

Casino operators said at the time a combination of out of state competition and the state’s high revenue sharing figure were clouding their futures. Delaware Park never had to publicly  reveal its financial status.

Publicly traded Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment was sold to Twin River (now Bally’s) following the state change.

Delaware Park offers traditional gaming  options, including 2,300 slots, as well as retail sports betting, iGaming, and thoroughbred racing.

“The Clairvest team is excited by the growth prospects at Delaware Park. We look forward to partnering with Thomas Benninger, an experienced gaming investor, to continue the stewardship of this unique property,” said Michael Wagman, president and a managing Director of Clairvest Group Inc.

Clairvest’s has a  20-year track record in the gaming industry. Delaware Park is Clairvest’s 57th platform investment and 14th investment in the gaming area.

The Clairvest / CEP VI co-investment pool is capitalized at  $850 million and focuses on equity investments in growth companies.

Clairvest has not announced future plans for the site, which has functioned as thoroughbred race track and “locals” spot without amenities like a hotel or a detached casino.

Hotel business tied to the casino dried up when new casinos opened in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Published reports indicate the Rickmans will continue to operate the White Clay Creek Country Club on the property.

Clairvest declined to comment on the minority investment in Delaware Park.

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