Detroit Casino Tax Revenue Falls 39% Through First Four Months Of 2020


The public health crisis is a tough pill to swallow for the city of Detroit.

According to new figures from the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the state’s commercial gambling regulator, the three Detroit casinos submitted $35.6 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the city from January through April.

Compared to the same period in 2019, the payments were down more than 39% from $58.6 million.

The MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The three properties reported no gaming revenue in April.

The money from the Detroit casinos accounts for around 17% of the city’s budget. The city, which declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2013, relies heavily on casino cash.

The money to the state is also down big, but far less significant in terms of a percentage hit. The state’s budget is well north of $50 billion.

Through the first four months of this year, the casinos paid $24.2 million in gaming taxes to the state, compared with $39.8 million for the first four months of 2019. That was also a decline of more than 39%.

Online gambling in the pipeline

According to a state fiscal analysis of the iGaming legislation passed in 2019, online casino gambling could generate more than $11 million annually for the city.

Online casino gaming will have a tiered tax rate in the Wolverine State.

As for sports wagering, a state fiscal note found that online/mobile sports betting could yield more than $3.5 million each year for the city.

Those estimates were based on a pre-COVID-19 world. More gambling could move online even after the casinos reopen in a limited capacity sometime this summer.

Michigan gambling regulators are attempting to fast-track the launch of online gambling, which was previously expected to start in early 2021.

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Brian Pempus

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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