2020 was a rough year for the entire US casino industry, but Detroit, Michigan, was hit harder than most around the country.
Very strict and restrictive COVID-19 protocols kept the three Detroit properties closed nearly the entire year, and that extended into early 2021.
In January 2021, Michigan launched both online sports betting and online and MI mobile casino gaming in an effort to increase revenue. Both iGaming platforms have performed much better than expected, especially for the Detroit casinos. Michigan was just one of the states to legalize sports betting in the past 2 years, and today there are several U.S. sportsbooks available in multiple states across the country
The three Detroit commercial casinos are Greektown, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino, but there are other tribal casinos scattered throughout the state. Some of those properties re-opened much quicker than the commercial properties but have still not fared as well.
The gross gaming revenue for the three Detroit Casinos in April was $109 million, but that only takes into account the in-person betting. Online sports betting and online casino gambling totals will be announced later this month by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
MGM Grand led the way in April with gross gaming revenue of just shy of $43 million. MotorCity had a market share of 37 percent for the month, and Greektown was third on the list with a 23 percent market share.
Even though the casino gaming portion of these April numbers was extremely impressive, in-person sports betting has still not taken off at the commercial properties. Sports betting accounted for just $1.54 million of the total gross gaming revenue last month.
The commercial casino properties are still operating at just 15% capacity, but there have not been any reports of long lines or waits to get inside of the properties. Some of these restrictions could be loosed in the coming months, which would help the state recover even quicker.
Despite these commercial properties showing big progress in April, the overall numbers are still well short of where they were before the pandemic. For comparison’s sake, taking a look at the April 2019 numbers will provide the best insight.
In April 2019, the three commercial properties posted a gross gaming revenue of $125.1 million, and there weren’t sports betting at that time. The retail gaming industry has not gotten back to where it was just two years ago, but these properties will all go past the previous GGR totals when factoring in iGaming win.
Tribal Casinos Failing to Keep Pace
Native American tribes are permitted to offer online casino gaming and online sports betting through their casino properties, and most have already done so. These tribal properties have struggled to keep up with the early success seen from the three commercial properties. Operators like MGM who have launched their BetMGM casino app have had a far greater success than the tribal-owned Mohegan Sun’s own mobile casino app.
The state has seen $55 million in online sports betting revenue through March, and the commercial casinos have accounted for nearly $38 million of that total. Of the $204.1 million in online casino revenue, just $80 million of that total came from the tribes.
This could change or even out in the future, but the commercial casinos are off to a big start in the iGaming industry.