Brick-and-Mortar Detroit Casino Revenue Remains Lower Than Pre-Pandemic


Detroit commercial casino revenue remains below pre-COVID-19 levels. 

Detroit casino revenue MotorCityDetroit casino revenue MotorCity
MotorCity Casino Hotel in downtown Detroit. The casino is one of three commercial gaming properties that combined last month to win $109.7 million. (Image: MotorCity)

The three brick-and-mortar gaming floors won $109.7 million last month, $16.1 million less than what they did in May of 2019. 

MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity, and Greektown were closed throughout May 2020 because of the coronavirus. For comparison, the Detroit casinos won $125.8 million in May of 2019 — 13 percent better than last month. 

MGM led the way in May 2021 with $46.1 million, representing a 42 percent market share. MotorCity was next at $39.2 million, and Greektown third at $23.6 million. 

Slot machines and table games won $107.94 million, and sportsbooks kept $1.75 million of the bets wagered. Handle, or the total amount of sports bets placed, totaled $20.2 million, down 17 percent from April.

Casinos share 19 percent of their revenue with the state and city by way of taxes. Detroit received 10.9 percent, which totaled $12.8 million last month. The state collects 8.1 percent, which amounted to $8.7 million. The figures include additional fees each casino must remit each month to the state and city. 

iGaming Boosts Revenues

The Michigan Gaming Control Board is expected to release gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the Detroit casinos’ online gaming and mobile sports betting operations later this week. When those stats come in, total May 2021 GGR will easily exceed the $125.8 million May 2019 number.

The internet casinos and online sportsbooks have played a critical role in the commercial casinos’ pandemic recovery. 

In April, land-based GGR totaled $108.9 million, 13 percent lower than the $125.1 million the three casinos took in during April 2019. But with iGaming and mobile sports betting, total April 2021 revenue was $224.1 million. Online casinos won $94.8 million, and internet sportsbooks generated revenue of $20.4 million. 

The Detroit land-based casinos remain operating at a maximum 50 percent capacity of their fire code. 

However, better regulatory conditions have arrived. As of June 1, guests who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear face masks. The three casinos are using the honor system, and ask that anyone not fully vaccinated continue to wear face coverings.

Online Licenses Approved

During the MGCB’s meeting today, regulators signed off on formally approving iGaming and mobile sports betting licenses for each of the three Detroit casinos. BetMGM, the online gaming platform for MGM Grand, MotorCity’s partner FanDuel, and Barstool Sports, the iGaming unit for Greektown, all received full operational privileges. 

The three iGaming and sportsbook platforms had been operating under provisional licenses since January. 

Michigan is one of only five states that permits full online casino gambling with interactive slot machines and table games. A total of 15 states allow mobile sports betting. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed legislation legalizing iGaming and online sports betting in December of 2019. Mobile sportsbooks went live in March of 2020, but internet casinos did not commence until January of 2021.  

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