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Crain’s Detroit Business: Trade group estimates 3 casinos account for 16% of Detroit’s total revenue

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May 4, 2016

By Sherri Welch

Just days before a federal legislative hearing to consider the legal status of sports betting and related topics, the American Gaming Association was in Detroit on Wednesday as part of a tour of casino cities across the U.S. to talk about contributions casinos make in their home communities.

Last year, Detroit’s three casinos contributed $174.3 million, or 16 percent of the city’s total revenue, the AGA said.

MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel and Greektown Casino-Hotel presented one of Detroit’s largest sources of revenue as it sought to emerge from bankruptcy, the association said.

The AGA’s visit comes less than a week before a House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing on May 11 to consider the legal status of daily fantasy sports, online gambling and sports betting.

For Detroit, traditional sports betting — which is illegal outside of Nevada under current federal law — has special significance, Chris Moyer, senior director of public affairs for the AGA, said during an interview with Crain’s.

“You could envision a sports book … at the casinos being very popular, given the fan base in Detroit,” Moyer said.

The city’s proximity to the Canadian border is also significant, given that Canada is moving legislation to bring single-game sports betting to casinos in the country, including Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino, Moyer said.

“That would be an attraction and an amenity that Caesars could offer that none of the Detroit casinos can offer,” he said.

With sports betting, there’s an opportunity for state and local governments to capture significant revenue, Moyer said. The AGA estimates $4.2 billion was bet on this year’s Super Bowl and the majority, or $4.1 billion ,was gambled illegally, outside of Las Vegas.

Another $9 billion was bet during March Madness, according to the AGA, and 97 percent of that was done through illegal bets.

“A regulated sports gaming environment actually strengthens the integrity of the game because it makes it transparent,” Moyer said.

The interest from Congress is reflecting the changing environment, he said. And the gaming industry across the country supports legalized sports betting.

Professional leagues are also coming around, Moyer said. This past weekend, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said his thinking on legalizing sports gambling has evolved.

That comes a year and a half after The New York Times published an op-ed by Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, calling for a federal response that would standardize rules governing licensing, monitoring and minimum-age requirements while preserving the games’ integrity.

Michigan legislation introduced last year to update state gaming laws and give more control over sports betting to casinos, horse tracks and fantasy sports players, hasn’t yet moved in the Legislature.

“What we’re starting to see is that some states are starting to pass a resolution saying they want sports gaming in their state,” Moyer said.

“The states are kind of helpless unless the federal government acts, but if there is a groundswelling of support from the states, that could pressure action at the federal level.”

Source: Crain’s Detroit Business: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20160504/NEWS/160509919/trade-group-estimates-3-casinos-account-for-16-of-detroits-total 


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