Detroit’s three casinos posted declining gaming revenue in September and their continued lack of options for sports betting is not helping the matter.
The figures released this week by the Michigan Gaming Control Board show Detroit’s $112.3 m total casino gaming revenue in September, was down 2.5 percent from last year’s same month and 6.3 percent from the result in August 2019. Gaming income is basically flat at $1.09b for the year-to-date.
MGM Resorts ‘ MGM Grand Detroit led the $46.5 m casino revenue index, but this was down 6.4% year-on-year, last month’s only negative casino. That said, the others barely qualified for growth, as revenue from MotorCity rose just 0.1 percent to $38.9 m and Greektown from Penn National Gaming grew 0.7 percent to $26.9 m.
Recently, MGM’s Detroit location opened Moneyline, the latest waiting sportsbook. Wagering in Michigan is still illegal, so for the moment Moneyline is just a’ football lounge’ where fans can watch matches, swig pints, grab a bite to eat and play the odd bar-top video poker game. But no gambling for games.
Mike Neubecker the president of MGM Grand Detroit told Mlive.com that the property had designed Moneyline “with the idea that this would be the standard place to walk up and make a bet.” All that is required now is for Michigan lawmakers to take out their thumbs and move their betting bill over the finish line.
Michigan’s legislature has a variety of gambling initiatives on its agenda, but Rep. Brandt Iden, who has led most of the gambling expansion efforts of the state in recent years, recently introduced a revised draft legislation that would legalise both land-based and online gaming by actively uncoupling it from other online gambling services, such as casino and poker.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made it clear that she is not a fan of online gambling, based on her conviction that it will cannibalise the income of the state lottery (despite a distinct lack of evidence in other states to support that conclusion).
Whitmer has also called for a sports betting tax rate of 15 percent, almost twice the 8 percent rate that Iden supports, while his new draft will allow Detroit casinos to pay the city an extra 1.25 percent (this top-up would exclude the state’s tribal casinos). Iden also proposes halving initial betting license fees to $100k, although annual renewal fees would also be halving to $50k.
Having previously introduced an online gambling bill through the state legislature, Iden is eager to gain a veto-proof majority of lawmakers before pressing for a betting vote only to see this bill cruelly vetoed by outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder last December. But if he could get Whitmer on board, things would certainly go a lot smoother. Maybe the two would discuss it at Moneyline over a beer.