Michigan Is Key In Adding To Nationwide Growth Of Tribal Gaming Revenue

Written By Drew Ellis on July 26, 2023
Four Winds casino reopening plans

Tribal gaming has bounced back from the pandemic here in Michigan, but the same can be said across the country.

The National Indian Gaming Commission recently released their Fiscal Year 2022 Gross Gaming Revenue Report. Leading the report was a new record set for the Indian gaming industry with $40.9 billion in gross gaming revenue for the fiscal year.

That new record topped the FY2021 mark of $39 billion by 4.9%. It is also well ahead of the pre-pandemic FY2019 that recorded $34.9 billion in GGR.

Most of the states involved in the commission saw revenue growth in the last fiscal year, including our own. And that’s not even factoring in the tribe’s success with online casinos in Michigan.

Michigan’s region records $5 billion in GGR

The National Indian Gaming Commission is comprised of 244 tribes across 29 states that operate 519 licensed gaming establishments.

Those 29 states are broken up in the report by eight regions.

Michigan is included in the St. Paul Region. We are joined by:

  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Wisconsin

A total of 96 operations in the region reported $5 billion collectively in revenue. That was up slightly (3.4%) from the $4.8 billion reported in FY2021.

Of the eight regions in the NIGC, seven had an increase in GGR for the fiscal year.

Michigan tribal casinos back to pre-pandemic levels

Following tribal casino revenue in Michigan takes a bit of patience.

Only once a year do we get a real glimpse into how they are performing. That is with the annual Tribal Gaming Report from the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

It’s there we see the 2% payments that tribes made to local units of government from the previous year. Those payments represent 2% of the revenue the tribe made from their Class III machines.

In 2022, Michigan’s 12 tribes made a collective payment of just over $30.8 million. While that was down 2.2% from 2021 ($31.5 million), it was still ahead of 2019’s $30.5 million total.

The pandemic created some genuine concerns about the long-term status of the tribal casino industry.

These numbers show the industry is bouncing back strong and capable of sustained success. That is not only important for Michigan’s economy, but the well-being of the tribal members themselves.

Online casino operations strong for Michigan tribes

Both of these reports aren’t factoring in the continued success of online gambling here in Michigan.

This state is one of few to offer legalized online casinos and that added revenue is also benefiting the tribal operators.

Michigan online casinos are the real revenue driver of the online gambling industry. In 2022, online casinos did nearly 300% more revenue ($1.58 billion) than online sports betting ($399.6 million).

While the Detroit casinos own the big piece of the online casino pie with partnerships with BetMGM, FanDuel and Barstool, Michigan’s tribes still see strong results.

The 12 tribes combined for $682.7 million of the online casino revenue for 2022. Leading the way was Bay Mills Indian Community, which has DraftKings Casino MI as its partner. DraftKings recorded $248.4 million in revenue last year.

It’s unknown what percent the tribes actually receive from the national operators for that revenue, but any percentage points are still a nice cherry on top of what is being earned.

Four Michigan tribes actually run their own name-brand online casinos, taking in a bigger percentage of the revenue. They are:

  • FireKeepers Casino
  • Four Winds Casinos
  • Gun Lake Casino
  • Soaring Eagle Casino/Saganing Eagles Landing

In 2022, those four combined for just over $91 million in online casino revenue.

When you add it all up, tribal gaming is hitting new peaks over the last 18 months. The fear of online gambling cannibalizing the retail casinos appears to be far from reality. It seems to have only strengthened the overall bottom line for these tribes.

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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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