In their first complete month of operating since reopening the first week of August, the three Detroit casinos reported $87.9 million in aggregate revenue for September, according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
That figure is nearly $20 million greater than the $69.3 million the casinos reported in August revenue. However, the 26.8% increase in month-over-month revenue only partially reflect improved business at the casinos, since MotorCity Casino Hotel and Greektown Casino-Hotel were only open for 27 days in August, while MGM Grand Detroit was open for 25 days in the month.
MGM Grand Detroit reported $36.1 million in revenue for September, and the casino’s daily average revenue rose from $1.14 million in August to $1.2 million in September. MotorCity Casino reported September revenue of $32.2 million, good for a daily average of $1.07 million, compared to $926,000 in August. Greektown reported $19.6 million, with a per-day average around $650,000, compared to August’s $581,000.
The trio of commercial casinos closed March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were allowed to reopen Aug. 5 while limiting capacity to 15% and following strict health and safety protocols laid out in an executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer’s emergency powers were curtailed by an Oct. 2 Michigan Supreme Court ruling, but the state health department and city of Detroit moved to reinstate the same operating conditions for the casinos.
Steep drops compared to 2019 revenue figures
Revenue was down at all three casinos compared to the amounts they reported in September 2019. This was expected, given the limited capacity at which the casinos are operating and the pandemic-related economic slump that has affected nearly all sectors.
So far in 2020, the Detroit casinos have reported $456.5 million in aggregate revenue, a decline of 58% compared to their combined revenue over the first nine months of 2019. September’s aggregate revenue of $87.9 million was 21.7% lower than the $112.3 million reported in September 2019. September revenue fell 22.3% at MGM Grand Detroit compared to the same month last year, while MotorCity’s and Greektown’s numbers dropped by 17.3% and 27.2%, respectively, compared to September 2019.
MGM Grand Detroit claimed a 41% share of the local market in September, compared to 37% for MotorCity Casino and 22% for Greektown.
September’s overall commercial casino revenue generated $7.1 million in taxes paid to the state of Michigan and $10.5 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments submitted to Detroit.
Sports betting numbers ahead of expected mobile gambling launch
In their first full month of retail sports betting, the Detroit casinos reported adjusted sports gambling revenue totaling $4.4 million in September, up from $1.97 million in August. MGM Grand Detroit reported $2.1 million, MotorCity Casino reported $1.6 million, and Greektown reported $722,509. The casinos paid $165,428 in sports betting taxes to the state and reported paying $202,190 to the City of Detroit.
Overall sports wagering revenue and tax payments are expected to grow in multitudes once Michigan launches online sports betting, which would allow gamblers to place bets from anywhere in the state, using a computer or mobile device. The state legislature legalized online wagering last December, with the passage of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, and state regulators are finalizing the twin processes of rulemaking to implement the law and of licensing mobile betting operators and suppliers.
In December 2019, after Whitmer signed the Lawful Internet Gaming Act into law, the Michigan Gaming Control Board projected a launch date for mobile betting in late 2020 or early 2021, but the board has since worked to speed up that timetable, with the launch possibly occurring as soon as November.
The board canceled a routine public meeting scheduled for this week to focus on the task of vetting license applications for online gaming operators and app suppliers. That meeting has been rescheduled for Nov. 10.
“The MGCB postponed the meeting so we could make the best use of board members’ time,” explained spokesperson Mary Kay Bean. “The agency expects to have more licensing agenda items ready for the board to consider in November than it could have presented Oct. 13.”