A Brief History of the Harrington Raceway & Casino
The Harrington Raceway & Casino is a legendary harness racing track and full casino resort located right on the Dover Cumberland county fairgrounds, just south of Harrington, Delaware. The casino, previously called Midway Slots, had more than 1,000 slot machines, blackjack, craps, pool, and other games. The track was built in 1974 and was one of the first full-scale casinos in the mid-Atlantic region. The name was given to the track after a local real estate developer named W. Clement Stone Jr.
Stone, who was an entrepreneur and developer with several success ventures, decided that he wanted to build a racetrack and resort. In his plans, he wanted to create a seven-mile stretch of high-definition television screens, restaurants, five hundred guest houses, a shopping center, an arena for live wrestling, basketball and ice hockey, a gigantic circular indoor bowling center, a four-hundred-seat auditorium, a professional tennis center, a professional golf course, and other attractions. It would be like a mini New York or a mini Paris. The Harrington racetrack would open in April of that year and was planned to be completed by the end of that calendar year. However, the project was delayed several times due to financial problems.
When word got out that the casino was coming to life, the word spread quickly. Delving into the business, it soon became apparent that the entire operation was in good hands. Stone and his partner, George Bennett IV, would oversee the construction and operations of the Harrington raceway. Bennett served as General Manager and President of the Harrington raceway until his untimely death in 1977. With the help of his two sons, Robert and Mark, Robert formed a company, Harrington Entertainment Enterprises, Inc., to operate the casino.
Although there were rumors that the opening of the casino could be brought down by the passing of a U.S. Congress, nothing came of it. Instead, the opening was delayed again for reasons which could not be explained. But it was revealed that one of Stone’s partners, Bill Ziemba, had been secretly having an affair with a top official of the raceway’s parent company at the time of his death. The suspicions prompted the opening of the casino.
As expected, the casino’s opening was stunning. Thousands of people showed up to watch the huge television screens, take in the wide array of amusements, dine at the hotels and casinos, take part in the thrilling races, and even take part in a one-on-one game of poker at one of the many tables inside. The massive crowd was even more amazed when they learned the location of this wondrous new attraction was within walking distance to the famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This location is so close, in fact, that many local residents actually commute there daily to see the show.
There was little doubt that the Harrington Raceway & Casino was going to be a huge success. It became the destination of choice for a lot of tourists. As a result, more people became aware of this unique new attraction. In addition, word-of-mouth advertising brought even more people to the newly opened racetrack.