Detroit Casinos Pay $2.2B to Michigan in Taxes Over 20 Years

Detroit Casinos Pay $2.2B to Michigan in Taxes Over 20 Years
By Dave Golokhov

Detroit casinos have contributed more than $2 billion to the state’s public schools over the past two decades, according to a report by Detroit ABC-TV affiliate WXYZ.

Detroit Casinos Impact on Michigan Economy

The state of Michigan taxes Detroit commercial casinos at 8.1% of net wins and that has proven to be quite a profitable source of income for the state.

Since 1999, that 8.1% per year has translated into $2.2 billion in contributions to the Michigan School Aid Fund. The fund supports statewide public-school programs from kindergarten to grade 12.

In 2018 alone, the casinos paid $117 million in wagering taxes, which went to help fund education. The money goes to build new schools, refurbish old ones, textbooks, salaries and much more.

It all started back in 1999 when the MGM Grand Detroit opened its doors at the end of July that year. That facility earned its gaming license in December of that year and gaming began shortly after. The Greektown Casino earned a license in November of 2000.

In total, there are now 20 casinos in the state of Michigan but just three in the city of Detroit. Along with the MGM Grand Detroit and the Greektown Casino, there is the MotorCity Casino Hotel.

Detroit's 2019 Numbers Could Outpace 2018

In the first half of the year, revenues at Detroit casinos were on pace to surpass the 2018 numbers.

Through June, the casinos have already paid $59.6 million in wagering taxes in 2019, according to WJBK, the Fox TV affiliate in Detroit. Fleshed out over a full year, 2019 is projected to bring in $119.2 million, nearly a 2% year-over-over improvement.

Status of Michigan Betting Legalization

Thee are often concerns that come with the legalization of gambling but when governments see numbers like this, that typically encourages them to push for more gambling. Right now, the state is in the midst of discussions as to whether it will legalize sports betting – both online and retail – according to a Detroit News report. But the process has not been a positive one so far for proponents of legal sports betting in Michigan.

Originally, some state officials had hoped to have sports betting up and running by the start of football season but at this point, to see any type of sports betting before the Super Bowl might be a win. Then-Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a sports betting bill last year. And the timetable in Michigan is important considering the progress that nearby Illinois and Indiana are making toward having a legal sports betting market.

With legal sports betting, Michigan would get an even bigger boost to its budgets, and that money could then use for schools, infrastructure or other public programs. The Michigan School Aid Fund has benefited greatly since 1999 and other aspects of the state could benefit too by opening the doors to online gaming and sports betting.

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Dave Golokhov, a veteran journalist and writer for numerous publications and websites, covers casino news for He has a passion for writing about sports, travel, food and casinos.

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