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October Revenue Numbers Reveal Strike’s Impact On Detroit Casinos

Written By Derek Helling on November 15, 2023 - Last Updated on November 29, 2023
paper bill on fire

It was a foregone conclusion that Detroit’s three brick-and-mortar commercial casinos would feel the impact of an ongoing strike. It’s now possible to gauge just how significant that impact is for the three properties.

As the casinos have limited their gaming amid the work stoppage, October revenue for the three facilities reflected that limitation. Barring a quick resolution to the contract dispute, it could get worse before it gets better for the casinos.

Casinos strike affects gaming availability in Detroit

On Oct. 17, members of multiple unions representing workers at all three Detroit casinos began their strike. While negotiations on a new contract are ongoing, picket lines have been part of the union demonstrations.

Amid the stoppage, the Hollywood at Greektown, MGM Grand, and Motorcity casinos have shuttered many gaming positions. For example, MGM Grand and Motorcity have closed their poker rooms entirely. All three casinos have limited their selection of slots, too.

That drop in gaming availability is likely the greatest factor behind what is almost a three-year low in gaming revenue for the three casinos as a whole.

Gambling revenue at lowest in almost three years

According to a release from the Michigan Gaming Control Board, gambling revenue from the three commercial casinos in Michigan for October came to $82.8 million. That represents a decline of 18.9% compared to October 2022 and a 18.3% drop from Detroit’s gaming revenue in September.

To put that total in further context, it’s the lowest total for the casinos in a single month since December 2020. That month, the three casinos were completely closed for most of the period due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

graphic showing cost of strike

Historical context suggests the strike is having a significant impact. In 2022, Detroit casino gaming revenue declined by a mere tenth of a percent from September to October. In 2019, such revenue actually improved by 2.9% from September to October.

Another number that demonstrates the strike’s impact is the in-person sports betting total. October is normally one of the busiest months for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in Detroit. This year, however, the three books took in just $18.1 million in bets.

That $18.1 million represents a 46.3% downturn from October 2022 and 28.6% dip from September 2023. Again, the three casinos have not seen such a small betting total since they faced heavy COVID-19 pandemic limitations.

There’s another element to this situation that is crucial to remember; these figures represent just the effects of the first 14 days of the strike. In October, the casinos were operating at full capacity for the first 17 days of the month.

Mounting costs could force Detroit casinos to make concessions

Unless a new contract agreement is in place soon, November’s revenue numbers could look even worse. They might represent an entire month of the casinos operating with a severely diminished workforce.

The three casinos can still avert that fate by granting union workers the concessions they demand. Such concessions include guarantees against job loss due to automation and more manageable quotas for housekeeping workers. Naturally, improved benefits and compensation are a part of the stalemate as well.

At some point, resisting those concessions will become more costly than granting them. October’s revenue numbers for Detroit‘s casinos demonstrate how they are losing millions of dollars each day.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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