Revenue at the three commercial casinos in Detroit is off 65% from the 2019 pace, with nearly five months of coronavirus-related closures as the culprit.
The MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity and Greektown casinos were closed from mid March to early August because of concerns over the spread of COVID-19. All casinos around the country were closed for the same reason. But in many other states, most casinos reopened before Detroit’s facilities did.
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave the go-ahead for the three Detroit casinos to reopen as of Aug. 5, but they are operating at 15% capacity because of social distancing requirements. That’s just one of several guidelines the casinos had to follow to reopen, according to a state document.
Through July 2019, Michigan’s commercial casinos had pulled in about $854.4 million in total adjusted gross receipts, compared to about $300 million so far this year, according to numbers reported by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
Last year’s total state wagering tax through July was about $69.1 million and the total city wagering tax earmarked for Detroit in the seventh-month period was about $101.7 million. Through July of 2020 those numbers stand at $24.2 million and $35.6 million respectively.
A report last year said that Detroit’s casinos had paid about $2.2 billion to the state in taxes — funds earmarked for the Michigan School Aid Fund that supports statewide public-school programs from kindergarten to grade 12.
Through two months of 2020, the signs looked encouraging for Michigan. Detroit’s casinos pulled in $120 million in January then topped that with $121 million in February, both ahead of the numbers in 2019.
But of course the pandemic struck and, much like casinos around the nation, Detroit’s facilities closed down. They were just starting to take sports bets — a practice which Michigan made legal in late 2019 and began operations on March 9, days before both sports and casinos were shut down.
The American Gaming Association released research in July indicating that the states 27 casinos — the Detroit trio and 24 tribal casinos scattered throughout the state – have an impact worth $6 billion annually to the state and supported nearly 38,000 jobs.