Time-lapse videos of plant growth are fascinating because they reveal the constant toil that plants undertake at a speed too gradual for the naked eye to appreciate. In much the same way, Detroit’s three brick-and-mortar commercial casinos are continuing their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest data from the Michigan Gaming Control Board reinforces that the three properties are still on pace for their best calendar year since 2019. The trend back toward pre-pandemic figures isn’t explosive. However, even slow progress in the right direction is still progress.
Detroit casinos slog toward three-year high
July’s total for revenue from in-person sports betting, poker, slots, and table games doesn’t just represent an improvement from June Detroit casino revenue. It’s also the best such month for the Hollywood at Greektown, MGM Grand, and Motorcity casinos since 2019.
That keeps 2023 on pace to be the best year for the trio since 2019. Through the first seven months of 2023, revenue comes to more than $749 million. While that’s less than a percentage point better than the first seven months of 2022 according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), it keeps them on track to improve on 2022 overall.
Should the trend of slow but steady growth continue, 2025 or 2026 could see Detroit casinos reach their 2019 levels. At the same time, July wasn’t equally kind to all three casinos. In fact, Hollywood at Greektown was the only one of the three to beat its July 2022 revenue total.
That improvement of more than 27% was sufficient to eclipse downturns at the other two properties, though. It’s the big picture that counts for the city and state, too. Because the three casinos combined enjoyed a slight uptick, so did tax dollars in July.
Because of those contributions, the MGCB voted to renew licenses for all three Detroit casinos on Tuesday. The slow and steady improvement also reinforces the fact that brick-and-mortar casinos are not victims of the success of online casinos.
Online casinos are not destroying Detroit’s gaming industry
Revenue from Detroit’s casinos isn’t the only thing that’s growing. Also expanding is the amount of data showing that online casinos do not cannibalize their physical counterparts. At this point, anyone arguing such a premise is either willfully ignorant or deliberately presenting misinformation.
While data from July is not yet available, Michigan’s online casinos have been seeing unprecedented activity. Their revenue grew by nearly a quarter in June. Also, they should hit the $1 billion in revenue mark a month earlier than they did in 2022.
As a $2 billion revenue year comes into sight for online casinos in Michigan for the first time, such significant growth would not accompany steady increases at physical casinos in Detroit if online casinos did indeed cannibalize those properties. Instead, Detroit’s casinos would be seeing equivalent dips in their business.
It’s also reductive to argue that casinos in Detroit would experience greater growth if legal online casinos did not exist in Michigan. Among the problems with that argument is that a lack of regulated online casinos does not equate to an absence of such gaming as unregulated operators continue to accept players from Michigan.
The fact is that online and physical casinos sell very different experiences. In that way, they do not compete with each other. July’s Detroit casino revenue numbers and the growth they represent provide even more evidence to support those facts.