After making it through more than a year of COVID restrictions, the retail casino industry was likely hoping for a few years of smooth operations.
Unfortunately, rising gas prices and inflation rates have started to put a pinch in some pocketbooks.
With no end in sight for the gas issues, and possibly even higher prices on the way, operators know they have another challenge ahead.
With online casinos a legal option in the state, will this latest issue lead more people to their apps?
Michigan gas prices well over $5 per gallon
As of Wednesday, Michigan’s average gas price according to AAA was $5.13 per gallon of regular fuel. Diesel prices were $5.96 per gallon.
While that is a slight dip from the $5.21 a week ago, it’s still a big jump from the $4.57 a month ago. It’s obviously a major jump from $3.12 a year ago.
Michigan is also sitting slightly higher than the national average of $4.95 a gallon.
Some counties that are home to casinos are also higher than the state average.
- Mackinac County: $5.24 per gallon
- Chippewa County: $5.24 per gallon
- Wayne County: $5.22 per gallon
- Schoolcraft County: $5.17 per gallon
- Manistee County: $5.15 per gallon
- Marquette County: $5.14 per gallon
Regular retail casino players cutting back
The rising gas prices have even die-hard casino goers rethinking their plans.
Reaching out to the popular Facebook Group, What Happens at the Casino Stays at the Casino, many of those regulars indicated they would be cutting back their retail trips.
While some indicated the rising gas prices, others mentioned the rising prices in a lot of things right now.
Others indicated they would still attempt to be regulars at the casinos, but would be cutting back in how much they spend to make up for paying more in gas.
Many in the group like to get together for group trips to the casino, which could be a big loss for the retail sites.
When it comes to turning to online casinos, this is a very loyal group of retail players. They want to support the retail location and find more trust in the machines they know than the new technology being offered to them.
What casinos are doing to combat gas prices
Regardless of what the numbers say, the rising gas prices have to be a concern for casino operators.
They aren’t going to sit idly by and let their customers opt to stay at home.
Gun Lake Casino recently ran a Gas Card Giveaway for VIP Guests. It gave away gas cards ranging from $50-250 in value. Invited guests also received an additional $25 gas card for every 1,000 Rewards Points earned. Gun Lake also offers up gas discount incentives for their rewards members.
During last weekend’s Father’s Day Slot Tournaments, along with $10,000 in cash and prizes, $25 gas cards were given to winners of every round.
Future promotions at the two casinos will see a six-person golf cart and a 2022 Vespa Primavera given away.
Players still also have the option to search for the variety of bus trip options available in the state. This provides a cheaper ride to the casino as part of a group, while sometimes including gaming or meal vouchers as well.
While those options could start to see increases in price as well, it still can be cheaper thank filling up the tank yourself.
What gas price increases mean for retail and online casinos
If fewer people are going to retail casinos, Michigan gamblers are fortunate to be able to have the casino come to them.
It’s unclear as of yet just how much internet gaming is benefitting from rising gas prices and inflation, if at all. May’s revenue report showed another strong month for the state when it comes to online casino revenue. It’s become a very strong provider of tax revenue for the state.
While revenue reports aren’t provided for Michigan’s tribal-based retail casinos, the three Detroit casinos provide their monthly numbers.
May saw a dip of more than $10 million in revenue from April for the three combined locations, but its $106.3 million total isn’t much of a drop from May of 2021. It’s also higher than January’s or February’s revenue totals.
June’s revenue report (which comes out mid-July) should provide a better indication as to how both retail and online casinos are being impacted.