Detroit Casinos Win $1.26B in 2021, Double 2020 Revenue, But Short of 2019

Posted on: January 12, 2022, 06:23h. 

Last updated on: January 12, 2022, 02:11h.

Detroit’s three casinos won a combined $1.26 billion from their guests in 2021. This was despite COVID capacity limits during the first half of the year.

Detroit casinos gaming revenue GGR
Casinos guests at MGM Grand Detroit enter the floor in August of 2020 after the resort was permitted to reopen. Detroit casinos won $1.26 billion from their guests in 2021. (Image: Detroit Free Press)

MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity, and Greektown doubled their 2020 gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $639 million. But last year’s haul fell shy of the record $1.45 billion in casino revenue the three downtown commercial properties won from gamblers in pre-pandemic 2019. The casinos operated under capacity limits from January 1 through June 22, 2021.

MGM Grand Detroit was the top player last year, with GGR of $554 million. MotorCity was next at $438.2 million, and Greektown third at $274.5 million.

Michigan taxes commercial GGR at 8.1 percent, and the city collects a 10.9 percent charge. In 2021, Detroit received $160.8 million from its three casinos, while the state coffers were given $102.6 million.

Detroit casinos continue to require that all guests and employees regardless of vaccination status wear face masks inside. The directive is a result of guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Indoor casino smoking remains prohibited at all three casinos. Prior to the pandemic, Michigan law provided exemptions for the casinos to allow indoor smoking in designated gaming areas.

Industry Expansion

While brick-and-mortar casino revenue remained short of 2019’s record play, Michigan’s gaming industry as a whole experienced unrivaled income in 2021. That’s due to mobile sports betting and iGaming commencing last year.

Nonessential businesses in Michigan and Detroit were subject to some of the harshest restrictions and operating limitations during 2020 amid the pandemic. As a result, lawmakers took a page out of New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s gaming industry playbook, and passed legislation to authorize iGaming. The expansion of gaming online included the state’s tribal gaming interests.

GGR from commercial iGaming totaled $517.9 million in 2021 through 11 months. Sports betting revenue from online and retail operations totaled $125.1 million. December sports betting and iGaming revenue have yet to be reported by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Along with the $517.9 million GGR generated online by the Detroit casinos, tribal operators won $375.8 million from their internet slots and table games. The tribes additionally won $1.4 million from online sports betting.

Prosperous Year

COVID-19 certainly isn’t a thing of the past, omicron responsible for record case counts as 2022 gets underway. But vaccinations and the less-severe variant have many Americans returning to a new sense of normal.

Pent-up demand is fueling record gaming across the US. Regional casinos, such as the three in Detroit, benefited from the suppressed need for entertainment, including gambling.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) reports that 2021 will be the industry’s best year in terms of GGR. The casino lobbying organization says revenue from traditional casinos, sports betting — both in-person and online — and iGaming totaled approximately $43.43 billion January through October. With November and December numbers still coming in, the AGA expects total 2021 GGR to easily eclipse the industry’s all-time revenue record of $43.65 billion set in 2019.