Revenue Figures Show How Tribal Casinos Stack Up Against Detroit Counterparts

Written By Dave Briggs on May 16, 2024
Stacks of casino chips against a white background. Over the last five years, Michigan's 26 casinos have had combined revenue of some $13.2 billion. PlayMichigan provides a complete breakdown.

How do the three Detroit casinos compare to Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos? PlayMichigan took a deep dive into the numbers from the last five years to better understand the state’s full slate of retail casinos, which collectively had revenue exceeding $13 billion since 2019.

By our accounting, seven retail operators each had combined revenue of more than $1 billion over the last five years. And the top five retail operators in Michigan both in 2023 and over the last five years are:

  1. MGM Grand Detroit
  2. MotorCity Casino
  3. Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (3 Soaring Eagle casinos)
  4. Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (FireKeepers)
  5. Hollywood Casino at Greektown

bar graph showing Michigan retail casinos combined revenue 2019-2023

Calculating a more robust picture of Michigan’s tribal casinos

Getting a full picture of the finances of the tribal casinos is, admittedly, a little challenging.

Self-governance laws on tribal lands means the casinos are only required to submit 2% of their annual “net win” to the state.

Unlike Detroit casinos which report monthly, the Michigan Gaming Control Board only reports the 2% of net win each tribe submits to the state annually.

The 2023 report came out in late-April and showed a decrease in gaming payments to the state for a second straight year.

Michigan currently has compacts with 12 native American tribes. The 2023 MGCB Tribal Gaming Report says:

“The compacts provide that the tribes shall make annual payments to the state to be applied toward the costs the state incurs in carrying out authorized oversight functions.”

Further, that 2% is reported by tribe, not broken down by each casino. Some tribes operate more than casino in Michigan.

And, Detroit casinos report adjusted gross receipts, not net win. The two are not exactly the same.

Michigan defines AGR as: “Gross receipts less winnings paid to wagerers. From the AGR, a casino pays fees and taxes, employee wages and benefits and other costs related to operating a casino.”

Net win is defined as gross gambling revenue minus all prizes and payouts.

But net win and AGR are close enough for us to get a general revenue picture of how Michigan’s casinos — both commercial and tribal — are performing.

Retail casino revenue between $2.7 billion and $3 billion annually

Over the last five years — noting that both 2020 and 2021 were impacted by pandemic closures — Michigan’s 26 retail casinos had combined revenue of between $2.7 billion and $3 billion annually (excluding the 2020 year most impacted by pandemic closures).

Slightly troubling is that total revenue is in decline year-over-year

By PlayMichigan accounting, total retail revenue was:

  • 2019 – $2.98 billion
  • 2020 – $1.84 billion (impacted by the pandemic)
  • 2021 – $2.84 billion
  • 2022 – $2.8 billion
  • 2023 – $2.74 billion

bar graph showing Michigan retail casinos total revenue - Five-year comparison

Some bright spots despite overall revenue decline

Comparing 2019 to 2023 figures better shows the overall decline in revenue over the last five years. Though it should be noted that Michigan’s #3 and #4 retail casinos by revenue have improved their finances since 2019.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe that operates the Soaring Eagle casinos and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi that operates the FireKeepers Casino are up 7.8% and 6.8%, respectively, since 2019.

The three Soaring Eagle casinos went from total net win of $306 million in 2019 to $330 million in 2023.

FireKeepers went from $293 million in 2019 to $313 million in 2023.

On the smaller end, four tribal casinos have also shown growth over five years. They are:

  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (operators of five Kewadin Casinos)
  • Hannahville Indian Community (operators of Island Resort & Casino)
  • Little Traverse Bay Bads of Odawa Indians (operators of two Odawa Casinos)
  • Keweenaw Bay Indiana Community (operators of two Ojibwa Casinos)

bar graph showing Michigan retail casinos - Comparin 2019 revenue to 2023

MGM Grand Detroit is Michigan’s leader

The analysis also shows the MGM Grand Detroit is, far and away, Michigan’s most successful casino.

Over five years, the MGM Grand Detroit is the only Michigan casino that has topped $2 billion in combined revenue ($2.6 billion). And, it had nearly $675 million more revenue than the second-place MotorCity Casino ($1.9 billion).

While the Hollywood Casino at Greektown ($1.3 billion) is fifth over that same time period, it is neck-and-neck with both Soaring Eagle ($1.6 billion) and FireKeepers ($1.48 billion).

bar graph showing Michigan retail casinos revenue - Five-year comparison

Photo by Shutterstock
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Michigan with an emphasis on online casino, online sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gambling industries in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Canada.

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