Detroit Casinos Need Sports Betting to Drive Revenues

The three casinos in Detroit, Michigan are continuing to struggle. Revenues have been down for months and September was no exception. The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced last month’s figures recently with combined casino gaming bringing only $112.3 million. This was a 2.5% decrease from the same month in 2018. This was a whopping 6.3% lower than what was earned in August 2019.

Breakdown of Revenues

The MGM Grand Detroit was the top earner in the region, bringing in just over $46 million. However, this number was down 6.4% when compared to September 2018. MotorCity was actually up, but only .1% with $38.9 million in earnings. Greektown, operated by Penn National Gaming, was up 0.7% with $26.9 million in earnings.

Ready for Sports Betting

The casinos could certainly benefit from sports betting, but it seems no where in sight. MGM Detroit opened Moneyline, a sportsbooks for the property but with wagering not legalized as of yet, the facility cannot be used. Players can visit the property and watch games and enjoy food and drinks, but no wagering on sports games is offered as of yet.

Moneyline was constructed to provide a traditional space for players to walk up and place their bets. Lawmakers must make the appropriate legal changes so such facilities can begin to contribute to the bottom line of the gaming properties.

Representative Brandt Iden

Michigan Representative Brandt Iden has been busy for years now trying to bring online gambling and sports betting to the state but to no avail. Legislation was recently revealed by the lawmaker that would legalize land-based gaming and online betting. However, it may not gain any ground due to the disinterest of new Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Last year, Iden was so close to passing online gambling legislation as the bill made it to the former governor’s desk, only to have the bill vetoed. Now it seems the new governor is not a fan of online gambling as well and legislation may never move forward.

Whitmer is making requests that don’t make sense to lawmakers or shareholders. She has been pushing for a 15% sports betting tax rate that is close to double of what Iden has set, with 8% in his bill. Iden has tried to do whatever he can to see sports betting and/or online gambling come to pass. He heven cut licensing fees to $100,000 and annual renewal fees to $50,000.

Only time will tell if the Detroit casinos will receive the assistance they need, be it via online gambling options or sports betting. There is enough support via state lawmakers, it seems to be just a matter of getting the governor on board to push the options into existence in the state.

Iden definitely wants to provide the best bill possible so the governor will approve and he won’t be in the same position he was last year, with an approved bill on the governor’s desk only to see it vetoed in the end.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.