Wintry Weather And Windsor Strike Mean Record Revenues For Detroit

Written By Kim Yuhl on April 18, 2018
lighthouse covered in snow and ice

It pays to be in the casino business these days. Figures released earlier this month show record revenue for Detroit’s casinos.

Overall, March’s revenue came in at $138.6 million. It was the highest monthly revenue posted since the first casino launched in 1999.

March 2018 Detroit casino revenue summary

The Michigan Gaming Board collects data from Detroit’s three casinos:

  • MGM Grand Detroit
  • MotorCity Casino Hotel
  • Greektown Casino Hotel

The three casinos combined showed a 26-percent increase in revenue when compared to February’s earnings and 5.7 percent growth when compared to March 2017.

MGM remained the leader in the space, posting $58.1 million for a 7.3-percent increase over March 2017. It was a record-setting month for MGM, breaking its previous record of $57.2 million set back in March 2012.

MotorCity also set a personal revenue best. It earned $49.3 million in March, which shattered its previous record of $45.8 million from March 2013. It also posted the largest year-over-year percentage increase at 9.3 percent.

Greektown, unfortunately, was not in record territory this month. In fact, it was the only casino to post a decline (2.3 percent) in revenue compared to March 2017. It earned $31.2 million for the month. March 2013 continues to be the best month on record for the casino with revenue at $34.7 million.

MGM continues to hold onto the lion’s share of the market at 42 percent. MotorCity sits solidly in second place with 36 percent. That leaves Greektown with 22 percent of the market share.

The weather may be frightful, but the revenue is delightful

Spring got lost on the way to Michigan this year. The result was a month of cold, below average temperatures with more than its fair share of rain and snow.

Some people are crediting the wicked weather for the surge in gaming revenues for Detroit’s casinos. Bruce Dall, MotorCity Casino Hotel president, is one such person.

“MotorCity Casino Hotel provides a great indoor entertainment experience, and March’s cold/rainy weather made MotorCity the perfect escape,” Dall, in a written statement to Crain’s Detroit Business.

Winter doesn’t appear to be eager to give way to spring.  Average April temperatures are about five degrees cooler than usual. If the weather is responsible for the surge in March revenue, it looks like April might see a similar boost.

The quarterly and yearly trends

March may have seen a huge uptick, but the industry’s revenue for the first quarter was relatively flat compared to the first quarter of 2017. The combined revenue for Q1 2018 was $360.2 million, down a slight 0.1 percent from the same time last year.

MGM and MotorCity showed modest gains of 1.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Greektown, however, posted a 4.7-percent decline.

Looking at the revenue trend from the past year, it also shows relatively flat revenue with a few notable exceptions.

The quarter ended strong with all three casinos showing a healthy boost in revenue. Other anomalies are Greektown’s significant drop in June 2017 and MotorCity’s considerable decline in October 2017.


A positive outlook for April’s casino revenue

Earlier this month, Caesars Windsor, just across the Canadian border from Detroit, shuttered its casino and hotel due to a labor strike. If the strike lasts for any significant period, it may be Detroit’s casinos that benefit.

The last strike at the Canadian casino occurred in 2004 and lasted 42 days and lost some market share to Detroit in the process.

Talks between management and labor are ongoing. If the dispute settles quickly, expect the revenue boost to be short-lived. If it drags out, however, it could keep Detroit’s casinos in record territory.

Final thoughts

A 26 percent monthly increase is certainly worth celebrating. Only time will tell if we are seeing a new normal or if it was just another anomaly. Either way, with Caesars Windsor on strike and the weather cooperating, April is set to be another good month for Detroit’s gaming market.

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while traveling around the world. You can learn more about her work and travels at

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