Detroit casinos see largest yearly revenue fall; online betting ‘a few days’ away

Detroit casinos had back-to-back record years, but they are hoping to forget the one set in 2020.

Total revenue at the three casinos in Detroit was cut by more than half last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, marking the largest yearly revenue drop in the casinos’ history.

MotorCity Casino Hotel, Greektown Casino-Hotel and MGM Grand Detroit saw sales plummet 57 percent from last year to $639 million in 2020, the Michigan Gaming Control Board announced Tuesday.

The declines are due to mandated closures and restrictions, including capacity limits, which drove revenues down much further than the 2008-09 Great Recession, according to control board data. The only year casinos made less revenue than in 2020 was in 1999, the year MGM Grand opened in July and MotorCity opened in December. Greektown opened the following year.

The casinos took in a record high $1.454 billion in revenue in 2019.

The Detroit casinos reopened at 15 percent capacity the first week in August after being closed 4 1/2 months to stem the spread of the coronavirus. They were ordered shut again Nov. 18, then reopened a month later.

Market share percentages among the casinos in 2020 remained consistent to the previous year. MGM had 41 percent, MotorCity had 36 percent and Greektown held 23 percent.

The city of Detroit’s share of wagering taxes and development agreements dwindled to $73.8 million in 2020, compared to $184.2 million in 2019. The casinos paid the state $50.3 million in wagering taxes, down from $117.8 million the year prior.

Total revenue generated through sports betting was $18.3 million. For the month of December, the casinos reported $23.9 million in revenue while open just nine days.

Live online betting in Michigan is “coming in a few days,” Richard Kalm, executive director of the gaming control board, said Tuesday during the board’s regular meeting. The first legal online wager had been anticipated at the end of 2020, but implementation was delayed.

“We’re really kind of waiting for some last odds and ends for some of our operators,” Kalm said. “There will be several operators that launch. We’re very close to making that official announcement.

“… In the public’s eye, it’s a matter of downloading an app and saying go. From a regulatory perspective, there’s a whole host of things that have to occur.”

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