Revenue from Detroit’s three casinos has plummeted nearly 60% so far this year as the gambling halls’ months-long closure in response to the coronavirus pandemic continues, leaving the city without a major source of tax revenue.
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MGM Grand’s revenue dropped 40% year-to-date last month, falling to $126.5 million from $315.1 million in 2019 revenue during that period. MotorCity has experienced similar hits, down 41% to $70.1 million from $169.8 million.
More than half of the first six months of this year was affected by the pandemic’s closures, and that period brought a total of $299.2 million in revenues for the three casinos. That’s down 59.3% from $735.4 million collected during the first half of 2019.
In turn, the city is seeing less casino wagering taxes this year. Detroit collected $35.6 million through the first half of this year, compared to $87.5 million in the first six months of last year.
According to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the state of Michigan receives 8.1% of a casino’s net winnings, and the city of Detroit receives 10.9%. Both the state and the city have completely lost that tax submission, given that all three casinos received $0 in April, May and June combined.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in March ordered casinos closed along with gyms, bars and theaters in an effort to slow down the rate of virus infection by limiting person-to-person contact and promoting social distancing, which are measures that are difficult to follow in casinos.
The casinos are currently waiting for Whitmer to give them the green light for reopening, but the governor’s recent lockdown extension and rising case numbers may defer reopenings even longer.
Despite Detroit’s three casinos remaining closed, tribal casinos have no legal obligation to follow state law and are regulated by their own gaming commissions. The state’s 23 tribal casinos began reopening in late May, having shut down voluntarily in March.
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