Detroit Casinos Operating at 15% Capacity, Waiting for Online Gaming

The commercial casinos located in Detroit are allowed to operate at only 15% capacity due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Because of the COVID-19 guidelines limiting entry, revenue was down dramatically in September, even further than what was anticipated.

The only way out of the struggle that the casinos are going through is offering online gambling options. However, the legal aspect of online gambling needs to be settled first.

September Numbers

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) released figures on Wednesday, which show that the three casino operators in Detroit managed to generate total revenue of $87.9 million in September. While that was a significant improvement compared to August (26.8%), the figures show a year-on-year decline, as the revenue generated in September 2019 was 21.7% higher than September 2020.

Once you take into account that the casinos are operating at 15%, the revenue is not that bad. Still, year-to-date casino revenue in 2020 is down by 58%, which is a massive and troublesome decline for Detroit’s commercial casinos.

MGM Resorts’ casino called MGM Grand Detroit reported the highest revenue – $36.1 million in September, with a 22.3% year-on-year decline. MotorCity reported $32.2 million, but the overall decline was smaller, as the casino managed to earn 17.1% more in September 2019.

The third property, Greektown, reported the most significant decline. The total reported revenue for September 2020 was $19.6 million, which is 27.2% less than last year.

The combined revenue for sports betting was $4.4 million in September, twice as much compared to August, due in large part to NFL betting action. MGM shared almost half of the reported revenue, earning a total of $2.1 million, whereas MotorCity reported $1.55 million. Finally, Greektown had the least success, with $722k in revenue.

Casinos Expect Online Options

The casinos’ ability to welcome visitors is severely limited in accordance with the health and safety measures proposed by the state’s officials. However, these properties have one last hope – online gambling.

The state of Michigan is in the process of accepting applications for online licenses, which began in July, but these things usually take time.

The MGCB did take some action to speed things up. There were public hearings about the regulations proposed regarding online gambling, as the regulator wanted to gain feedback from stakeholders.

The rules were reviewed and then forwarded to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules, which then submitted the text for further study at the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).

The JCAR needs some time to sort things out, meaning we could see the first licenses issued sometime during December. Hopefully, the state-approved online gambling sites would be permitted to launch their online operations before the Super Bowl, the single biggest sports betting event of the year.

Moreover, the Michigan Senate approved a bill SB991 recently, which allowed online poker operators from Michigan to share the liquidity of players from other US states.

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