Detroit Casinos Rebound In October, But Stagnation Still The Name Of The Game

Posted on November 27, 2019

The story of October casino revenues in Detroit for 2019 has some bad news and good news. As with many things, it depends on perspective.

Total revenues for Greektown, MGM Grand Detroit and the Motorcity casinos improved from September. That was a pretty low bar to clear, though.

The raw October casino revenues in Detroit for 2019

The adjusted gross revenue numbers for the three Detroit casinos in October 2019 according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board were:

  • Greektown: over $27.48 million
  • MGM Grand Detroit: over $48.86 million
  • Motorcity: over $39.3 million
  • Total: over $115.66 million

The city of Detroit received over $14.34 million in taxes while the state of Michigan got more than $9.36 million for the month. These numbers were especially good news for one casino that had its worst month of 2019 in September.

MGM Grand Detroit rising back toward its 2019 mean

The MGM Grand’s owners were likely happy to see September end. The casino reported just $46.49 million in revenue, a 13% drop from August representing the worst month of year to date.

October’s total is a 4.9% increase and on par with what the casino did in the first two months of the year. It’s also just 1.9% less than the revenue it earned in October of 2018.

The MGM Grand’s mean revenue or monthly average for 2019 so far is $51.52 million. October’s total was just 5.2% off that pace.

The same trends apply to the MGM Grand’s competition. Greektown and Motorcity were both up 2.1% month-over-month.

In a year-over-year comparison for October, Greektown’s revenue diminished half of a percent while Motorcity was actually up 1.9%.

All in all, October 2019 was pretty mediocre, ranking seventh of the first ten months of the year.

The casino industry in Detroit still isn’t growing

October’s three-casino total is pretty flat compared to October of last year when the three casinos combined for $115.95 in revenues.

At this time last year, the running total for the year was almost $1.22 billion. Through the first 10 months of this year, the three powers have combined to produce over $1.2 billion.

The downturns may not be large in terms of percentages, but what they point to is a lack of growth. Stagnation becomes a breeding ground for more serious decline if ignored.

Help could be on the way, however. The state may legalize sports betting before the end of the current legislative session.

The MGM Grand has already anticipated that and renovated space on its grounds to serve as the home of a sportsbook. MGM’s experience in that vertical in other regions should enable it to get to market as quickly as the MGCB allows.

Because of Detroit’s place in the larger sports industry, it’s likely that Greektown and Motorcity would get in on the action quickly as well. Sports betting could be the new revenue stream all three casinos need to help them out of the rut.

Negotiations on a sportsbetting bill in Lansing are far from over, however. For now, Detroit’s casinos will need to seek out other methods to make the final months of 2019 their best quarter of the year.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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