The three Detroit casinos combined to win $110.4 million from gamblers in September. That number nearly matches the market’s pre-COVID-19 business levels.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) reports that gross gaming revenue (GGR) from MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity, and Greektown in September 2021 was up 21.6 percent from September 2020. More telling, last month was less than two percent short of the GGR haul that the three commercial gaming floors won in September of 2019.
Prior to the coronavirus’ arrival in the US, the casinos won $112.3 million in September 2019 — just 1.7 percent more — than they did last month. Slot machines and table games generated GGR of $106.9 million, with retail sports betting accounting for the remaining $3.5 million.
MGM dominated the market with a 45 percent share of the GGR. The MGM Resorts casino reported September revenue of $48.4 million. MotorCity was next at $36.5 million, and Greektown third at $22 million.
September marked the closest that the Detroit casinos have come to matching same-month 2019 GGR. The three venues were only freed from pandemic-related operating restrictions in late June.
As for the larger gaming industry in Detroit and throughout Michigan, business is better than ever. That’s because of the recent introductions of online sports betting and mobile sports betting.
Online sportsbooks and interactive internet casinos with slots and table games went live in January. The gaming expansion has allowed the three brick-and-mortar Detroit casinos to offset some of their retail losses incurred earlier this year, as the state has continued to impose COVID-19 on many businesses.
Internet GGR has been robust.
In August, iGaming revenue totaled $97.2 million. Mobile sportsbooks won another $15.9 million. When paired with the $113.8 million that the Detroit casinos won on their physical floors, and August GGR from all channels was approximately $226.2 million. In August of 2019, the casinos reported total GGR of $119.8 million.
The state Gaming Control Board will release September 2021 iGaming and mobile sportsbook revenue later this week. But September’s retail GGR performance — nearly matching September 2019 when there was no pandemic, nor legal sports betting and online gaming — is a positive sign for land-based operators.
Detroit’s casinos heavily rely on the city’s tourism and convention industries to keep their gaming floors busy and more than 1,000 hotel rooms occupied. Detroit is one of the biggest cities in America that has large casino resorts equipped with substantial meeting and convention spaces.
During non-pandemic years, the Detroit area welcomes roughly 19 million annual visitors who spend nearly $5 billion in town.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, the city’s main air hub, processed a record number of passengers — more than 36.7 million — in 2019. But that figure dropped to just 14.1 million passengers in 2020.
Travel, especially domestically, is returning. And many more Americans will almost certainly travel during the upcoming holiday season than they did last year.
Typically, about one-third of Americans travel at some point in November and December. But a recent poll conducted by PwC found that more than half plan to get out and about during the final two months of the year.
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