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Michigan Casino Revenue Plunges To $76 Million In November, Showing Impact Of Workers’ Strikes

Outside of pandemic, it was lowest monthly gaming revenue total since 2001




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Detroit November 2023 casino revenue

The Michigan Gaming Control Board reported Tuesday that Detroit’s three casinos claimed $76 million in adjusted gross revenue from gaming in November, the lowest total in more than 22 years as recently ended workers’ strikes had a profound impact on the bottom line.

The figure was the lowest revenue total outside the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic since the trio claimed $75.7 million in adjusted winnings back in February 2001. Revenue last month plunged 23.9% from the previous November’s $99.9 million and was down almost 7% versus October’s total of close to $81.7 million.

The reported gaming revenue is separate from a year-best of $3.1 million in AGR from retail sports wagering,

All three casinos have now come to bargaining agreements with employee unions, with MGM Grand the last to reach a settlement on Dec. 4 to end its unionized workers’ 47-day work stoppage. Workers at Hollywood Casino in Greektown and MotorCity Casino reached agreements on new labor deals Nov. 19.

The year-to-date casino revenue of more than $1.11 billion is down 3.2% against the 2022 total of nearly $1.15 billion heading into the final month of the year. The state received nearly $6.2 million in gaming taxes last month, about $1.9 million less compared to the previous November, and the $90 million in state taxes for 2023 is 3.2% lower than the $93 million that hit state coffers the first 11 months of last year.

The city of Detroit last month claimed $9.4 million in taxes, a drop of just over $3 million from November 2022. The gap in taxes compared to last year, though, is smaller than the state’s shortfall as the $141.4 million is approximately $810,000 less.

MGM takes biggest hit due to longest strike

The inability to reach a labor agreement the entire month of November impacted MGM Grand, which is the biggest revenue generator among Detroit’s three casinos. Its $30.6 million in AGR was still enough to lead the group, but it was down 34.4% compared to last year and its lowest amount of winnings since claiming $30.3 million in February 2003.

Though MGM Grand did surpass $500 million in AGR for the calendar year, it headed into December down 6.5% compared to the $549 million in winnings for the opening 11 months of last year. Casino games weren’t the only discipline affected, as sports wagering handle was down more than 50% from October to just over $2.3 million. The BetMGM-powered sportsbook had a decent month with what action it did have, barely missing a 10% hold to claim more than $230,000 in gross revenue.

MotorCity Casino saw only a slight decline in revenue from October — the nearly $24.7 million represented a 1.4% decline from the previous month. That was far better than the year-over-year drop of 17.8% versus the $30 million in winnings accumulated last November. MotorCity still has the biggest year-to-date decline compared to 2022, with its $338.9 million AGR 6.7% lower.

If there was one bright spot for Motor City, it was the FanDuel retail sportsbook finally coming up with a big monthly victory. After absorbing the two biggest losses in state history earlier this year, the brick-and-mortar sportsbook set an all-time high with more than $2.2 million in gross revenue while posting a 27.7% hold. It bettered FanDuel’s previous high of close to $2.2 million in October 2020 and is the second-highest total of the three books in state annals, behind the $3.7 million won by BetMGM that same month.

Greektown arguably showed the most resiliency from October among the three casinos. Its month-over-month revenue comparison ticked 6.8% higher to $20.7 million. Though not enough to offset a 10.8% year-over-year decline, the PENN Entertainment venue is still in strong position to be the only casino of the three to finish with year-over-year growth. Its $259.1 million in AGR is 9.7% better than the $236.2 million accrued in the first 11 months of 2022.

Big win can’t hide declines across retail sportsbooks

While MotorCity’s big sports betting win lifted revenue totals compared to last year, handle continued to be sluggish as the $15.3 million in accepted wagers was 15.5% lower compared to November 2022. Total retail handle is down 38.9% year-to-date, with only $151.3 million wagered in Motown compared to $247.7 a year ago. The decline seems sharper than normal, considering the Detroit Lions lead the NFC North and are in line for their first playoff berth since the 2017 postseason.

The 20.3% hold was the highest in the 41 months of retail wagering in the Wolverine State, while the $3.1 million-plus was more than double October’s haul of more than $1.1 million. Gross revenue, though, has plunged 46.8% to $9.3 million this year, impacted by the lighter handle, MotorCity’s April and June losses totaling more than $2.4 million, and a 6.1% hold that is nearly one full percentage point lower compared to the same span in 2022.

It is uncertain if the workers’ strike impacted PENN’s transition from Barstool Sportsbook to ESPN BET, with the mobile launch taking place in mid-November. Handle at Greektown was down sharply at 33.8% to about $5 million, but the house did craft a 13.3% hold to claim more than $657,000 in winnings.

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