Projecting Detroit Casinos’ October Revenue As Workers’ Strike Impacts Business

Written By Drew Ellis on November 8, 2023
Detroit casino projections

The Detroit casino strike will definitely have an impact on gambling revenue for October.

With 3,700 union workers picketing the three Detroit casinos, it is sure to decrease the commercial revenue for last month.

While PlayMichigan expects the strike to likely increase the revenue of Michigan online casinos from last month, it most certainly will take the Detroit casino revenue down significantly.

Just how low will the commercial casino revenue drop in October?

What Detroit casinos are making in 2023

The overall gaming revenue from the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown this year has been competitive with 2022.

Through the first nine months of 2023, the three Detroit casinos have brought in a total of $953.7 million in revenue from slots and table games. Retail sports betting has brought in an additional $5 million in revenue for the year. That puts together a total of $958.7 million in total gaming revenue.

When we break that down by day, that is an average of just over $3.5 million per day over a total of 273 days.

Averaging things out by month, the three casinos are averaging just over $106.5 million per month in 2023.

The peak for slot and table game revenue was $117.8 million in March, while the low was just under $100 million in September. September actually marked the first time all year the monthly revenue was below $100 million.

Sports betting revenue peaked in September with $1.6 million in revenue. The low was over $378,000 in losses in June.

What are Detroit casinos losing per day?

It’s hard to know exactly what the Detroit casinos are losing in daily revenue, but we definitely have a window that we feel is an accurate representation.

With 3,700 union workers on strike, that makes up about 75% of the available work staff for the Detroit casinos. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 4,900 total casino hotel employees in Detroit as of July 2023.

Losing 75% of staff doesn’t mean the Detroit casinos are losing 75% of revenue, however. Sources close to the Detroit casinos approximated that they were operating at about 50% of their full capacity.

All three casinos had certain sections of their gaming floors closed off or limited, including the whole first floor of MotorCity Casino. All three have also stopping taking sports wagers with an in-person service desk, now directing bettors to kiosks.

With the three casinos at a range of about 40-70% capacity, that would leave the casinos losing out on $1.5-2.5 million per day in gaming revenue.

Detroit casinos likely to have lowest revenue since pandemic

The casino strike started on Oct. 17, leaving 15 days of the month with the three casinos limited.

The strike itself was announced the previous day, on Oct. 16, while it had been a topic throughout the month of October. Union workers voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike on Sept. 29 had a new contract not been met by the Oct. 16 deadline. That alone could have impacted customer turnout for those regular patrons that wanted to support the union workers.

In past years, October hasn’t had any real significance to being a particularly high or low month for the casinos. While sports betting is definitely higher in October, the revenue doesn’t make a big impact on the overall total.

Let’s start the October projection with the base average of $106.5 million for the monthly total.

Factoring in the 15 days of the strike, that’s loss of $22.5 to $37.5 million in losses of gaming revenue based on our calculations.

The pre-strike days could be impacted, but it’s hard to know how severely one way or another. Would customers rush to the casino in days prior to the strike knowing they may not be able to return anytime soon? Would they avoid it as a sign of strength with the workers?

We feel a best-case scenario will see the Detroit casinos reach $85-90 million in retail revenue for October. That would be the lowest total since February of 2021 when the casinos were still dealing with COVID restrictions.

A realistic scenario sees the Detroit casinos recording around $75-80 million in October given the work stoppage.

Worst-case scenario is anywhere below $70 million.

Either way, it’s a significant loss for the Detroit casinos. And it means millions of dollars of lost tax revenue for the state and the city of Detroit.

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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the 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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