More Than Gambling Revenue Suffering During Detroit Casino Workers’ Strike

Written By Drew Ellis on November 16, 2023 - Last Updated on November 17, 2023
Image of hand holding small money in front of casino sign for story on the impact beyond revenue the workers' strike is having on Detroit casinos

The Detroit casino workers’ strike has clearly had a hit on the bottom line of the three casinos in the Motor City.

We’ve seen the impact it has had on casino and sports betting revenue. It’s had to have an impact on the hotel business associated with each casino as well.

Now, as the strike moves into one month of longevity, it’s impacting the casinos’ ability to hold special events.

Multiple fundraisers elect to not cross picket line

With the Detroit Casino Council comprised of over 3,700 striking union workers across the three Detroit casinos, it has thinned out available staff.

That is making it difficult for companies to hold special events at the Detroit casinos despite long relationships.

Along with the staffing issues that the casinos are experiencing, there are others that won’t justify crossing the picket line to hold their events.

Crain’s Detroit reported that the National Kidney Foundation had to move their ball from MotorCity Casino on Nov. 11 for those very reasons.

“… it also became clear to both parties that (MotorCity) wouldn’t be able to execute our event to a standard we were comfortable with,” National Kidney Foundation of Michigan Director of Development Lisa Shutz Jelic told Crain’s.

Similarly, Crain’s reports that the Downtown Detroit Partnership moved its annual Detroit Aglow fundraiser from MGM Grand Detroit. Originally scheduled for Nov. 21, it will now be held on Nov. 20 and moved to Eastern Market.

Limited cross-promotion available inside Detroit casinos

The three Detroit casinos have done well in the past being able to cross-promote their amenities into one experience.

Concerts and shows lead to hotel stays with dining experiences and gambling.

With limited dining options now available at each casino due to the staff limitations, that’s an added source of revenue taking an impact.

Fewer hotel rooms are available as well with hospitality staffing shortages.

Though entertainment schedules remain, only MotorCity Casino still has concerts and events taking place throughout the rest of November. Even then, it’s not clear if those attending a show will cross the picket line to gamble in the casino.

Valet parking hasn’t been available at any of the three casinos during the strike. While not a major revenue source, it’s another example of lost revenue sources piling up.

Gambling losses hit over $25 million in October

The strike is now approaching one month as of Friday and the revenue losses for the casinos are becoming more clear.

In October, it is believed that the three casinos lost about $25 million in revenue due to the 14 days of the strike occurring in October.

The overall revenue was $81.7 million for slots and table games, which was the lowest monthly total since December 2020.

Retail sports betting revenue also dropped by $1 million compared to October of 2022.

We are already past the halfway point of November, which the influence of the striking union workers carrying more weight each day.

The casinos could be looking at record lows for revenue while being open for the entire month by the time November’s numbers are released.

That is also just the gaming losses. When you factor in the hotel, dining and amenity losses, the casinos are losing a far greater total.

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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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