Indiana Launches Sports Betting; Detroit Casino Win Falls More Than Normal

September was an especially lackluster month for the Detroit casino market, but how much of it was due to Indiana's new sportsbooks?

Is Indiana starting to eat Michigan’s lunch?

Indiana’s first sportsbooks opened their doors on Sept. 1, with the Blue Chip Casino, home to a FanDuel Sportsbook, launching its retail betting on Sept. 5. Blue Chip is located just a handful of miles from the Michigan border, and anecdotally, according to Michigan state Rep. Brandt Iden, sponsor of a Michigan sports betting bill, we know its parking lot is full of Michigan license plates.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Gaming Control Board reported that the Detroit casino market contracted 2.5% year-over-year in September, the steepest decline for the three commercial casinos since win fell 6.1% in February 2018. Are more Michigan gaming dollars starting to flow into the Hoosier State?

Casino performances

The Detroit casino market has been sluggish for years, hence the effort to legalize online casino, as well as retail and online/mobile sports wagering. Through September, the Detroit casinos’ aggregate revenue of $1.09 billion was 0.3% higher than for the first nine months of last year, according to the MGCB.

The market saw modest growth from January to May, but then came a rough summer for the casinos. June (-1.4%), July (-0.3%), and August (-0.5%) were all officially down months in a year-over-year comparison. September’s 2.5% drop didn’t come out of the blue.

It’s also worth noting that last month had one fewer weekend compared to September 2018.

The 2.5% drop last month was thanks to MGM Grand Detroit, and not the other two properties — MotorCity and Greektown. According to the MGCB, the Motor City and Greektown casinos recorded revenue gains in September of 0.1% and 0.7%, respectively. MGM fell 6.4% year-over-year.

MGM controlled 41% of the market in September, compared to 35% for MotorCity and 24% for Greektown.

For the third quarter of this year compared to last year, MGM revenue was down 1.3%, Greektown was down 2.6%, and MotorCity was up 0.3%.

Indiana mobile

While Blue Chip’s FanDuel Sportsbook is well positioned to grab gaming win from folks living in southwest Michigan, the casino is located more than 200 miles from Detroit. It’s a far drive even for an opportunity to bet on sports legally. Blue Chip isn’t catering to the Detroit customer base.

According to figures released Thursday from the Indiana Gaming Commission, Blue Chip saw $3.8 mm in handle during September. That’s not a lot of money, but it’s only the beginning.

Fortunately for Detroit, Ohio hasn’t yet authorized sports betting. A sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Toledo would be problematic for the Detroit properties.

Unfortunately for the Detroit gaming dens, Indiana kicked off online/mobile sports wagering on Oct. 3, with platforms from Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers) and DraftKings. Michiganders can simply cross into the Hoosier State and bet on their phones from virtually anywhere.

More Indiana online/mobile books will launch in the coming weeks and months.

Indiana’s state-of-the-art sports wagering industry could dissuade some folks from heading to Detroit to gamble, especially if the Indiana border is closer. Sports betting is the hottest casino offering in the country and it’s only going to go more mainstream as more states legalize and the leagues (especially the NFL) slowly but surely fully embrace the economic opportunity that comes from it.

Michigan’s commercial gaming revenue report from October will provide a better glimpse into what impact Hoosier State sports wagering might be having on the Wolverine State.


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