Revenue Loss Of $54 Million Just One Impact Of Detroit Casino Strike

Written By Drew Ellis on December 14, 2023 - Last Updated on December 15, 2023
Image of a calculator showing $54.1 million on the screen and a long receipt in front of striking casino workers to reflect the financial toll of the Detroit casino workers' strike

The first Detroit casino worker’s strike is now in the rearview mirror. But what financial damage did the strike cause the casinos? PlayMichigan dove into the numbers.

Starting on Oct. 17 and officially ending in its entirety on Dec. 2, it lasted 47 days.

With the November Detroit casino revenue reported being released this week, it now gives us a full picture of the numbers.

How much did Detroit casinos lose during the strike?

On Oct. 17, a total of 3,700 union workers from MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown went on strike.

These union workers made up a lot of different classifications of jobs, but a good amount were involved in slot and table games inside the retail casinos.

In the month of October, we saw the three casinos record $81.7 million in revenue from slots and table games. That was a far cry from the $105.9 million they were averaging in 2023 prior to October.

The strike then extended to Nov. 19 for workers at MotorCity Casino and at Hollywood Casino, while it lasted throughout November for MGM Grand Detroit.

Despite that, the gaming losses in November only declined by another $5.7 million at $76 million.

In the two strike months, the three casinos combined had $54.1 million less gaming revenue than what they were averaging before the strike began.

Chart showing the impact of the Detroit casino workers’ strike on revenue.

What Detroit casino lost the most during the strike?

Early in the strike we were able to piece together which ones were best prepared to handle the job losses.

Each casino had to close a number of their gambling features. Whether that be rows of slots, select tables, or poker rooms, each had to make tough decisions.

MGM Grand Detroit looked to be most impacted in terms of all that was closed. MotorCity Casino had to close its entire first floor. Greektown had the fewest closures.

That played itself out when it came to revenue losses. Along with the most closures, MGM Grand Detroit also had the strike last the longest.

Here’s a look at where each casino sat in revenue losses compared to their respective 2023 averages.

Detroit CasinoAverage 2023 Monthly
Revenue (Jan-Sept)
October 2023 RevenueNovember 2023 RevenueTotal Losses
(Below Average)
MGM Grand Detroit$49.5 Million$37.3 Million$30.6 Million$31.1 Million
MotorCity Casino$32.1 Million$25 Million$24.7 Million$14.5 Million
Hollywood Casino
at Greektown
$24.3 Million$19.4 Million$20.7 Million$8.5 Million
Total$105.9 Million$81.7 Million$76 Million$54.1 Million

How much did strike impact tax revenue?

As gaming revenue declined during the strike, so did tax revenue that goes to the state and the city of Detroit.

Each month, 8.1% of the revenue from slots and table games at the Detroit casino is taxed out to the state. With $54.1 million lost during the strike, that equates to $4.4 million in state tax revenue.

The City of Detroit tax is 10.9% of the reported revenue. Now, the casinos’ development agreements with the City of Detroit may require additional wagering tax payments. However, we can only calculate the 10.9% that is guaranteed. That would be $5.9 million in Detroit tax revenue that was lost during the strike.

Casino strike key facts and figures

Based on these numbers, we can also get a better understanding of how the strike impacted day-to-day operations.

  • Strike Duration: 47 days
  • *Slot/Table Gambling Revenue Loss: $54.1 million
  • *Slot/Table Gambling Avg. Revenue Loss: $1.15 million per day
  • Gambling State Tax Revenue Loss: $4.4 million
  • Average State Tax Revenue Loss: $93,600 per day
  • Gaming City of Detroit Tax Revenue Loss: $5.9 million
  • Average City of Detroit Tax Revenue Loss: $125,500

*Based on gaming revenue monthly average in 2023 prior to strike

Chart showing the notable financial losses during the Detroit casino workers’ strike

Sports betting makes revenue gains during strike

During the strike, all three Detroit casino locations had to close down their in-person sports betting desks.

Each had to rely strictly on their Michigan sports betting kiosks.

Despite that, they did quite well for themselves.

Prior to October, the retail casinos were averaging just $557,536 in monthly sports betting revenue.

In October, they brought in a collective $1.13 million in revenue, followed by $3.12 million in November. That combined for a total of $4.25 million.

Clearly, the launch of football season still made for impactful sports betting months at the Detroit casinos. But, the October/November totals in 2023 were even greater than those same months in 2022 ($4.04 million).

These revenue totals do come with a lower handle. In 2022, those months saw $41.6 million in retail wagers. This year, they had just $33.4 million in handle. But, thankfully for the casinos the bettors were not on top of their game this year.

Detroit casinos avoid major blow, back on solid ground

Overall, the Detroit casino strike seemed to have its greatest impact early on, but it faded as it lingered into a second month.

The $24.2 million in gaming revenue losses over 15 days of October averaged $1.61 million per day. The $29.9 million over 30 days of November led to an average of just under $1 million.

Granted, circumstances were different, but even with the strike ending after 19 days for two of the casinos, the financial impact wasn’t meeting the same pace as October.

Sports betting still took place even though it was limited to kiosks, so that suffered little to no impact.

Clearly $54.1 million isn’t small peanuts. It’s a lot of money and led to millions in lost tax revenue for the state and Detroit.

But, given the strike lingered on as long as it did, losing just 4.9% of the current yearly gaming revenue total ($1.11 billion) isn’t as big of a blow as one might have expected at the onset of the strike.

Prior to the strike, the Detroit casinos were on pace to make more slot and table game revenue than they did in 2022. That is no longer the case.

In the end, the workers all got a deal they are happy with that will last five years, avoiding any further disruptions.

The casinos are now back in operation and customers are filing into each location.

Perhaps a surge in revenue in December could help make up for what was lost during the strike.

Either way, business is back in Detroit and it won’t be long before it is booming once again.

Photo by PlayMichigan
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Written by
Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of PlayILottery.com. He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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