Twenty-two new casinos have been proposed for construction in Michigan. Both private investors and Native American tribes are pushing for more venues throughout the Lower Peninsula. The proposed construction would almost double the number of casinos in the state — there are currently 25. This push comes in response to the record-breaking revenue of the three Detroit casinos in 2011 — an astounding $1.4 billion. While more casinos could help bring revenue to the state, doubling the number has significant potential to oversaturate the market. Michigan is not a destination gambling spot like Las Vegas, and too many new casinos could hurt the existing ones.
Two efforts, one led by Michigan First and ballot proposal Michigan Is Yours, propose to increase the number of casinos. The two proposals call for four new casinos in Romulus, two in Detroit, two in Port Huron and more in Macomb and Oakland counties.
The obvious benefits of adding casinos to the state include more jobs and a boost to the economy. Outside of revenue taken in by the casinos, patrons spend additional money at local gas stations and nearby restaurants, which benefits surrounding businesses.
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is in favor of some casino expansion. He has expressed interest in having a casino in Lansing, and thinks building casinos would be helpful for cities outside of Detroit. Detroit currently hosts three casinos: the MGM Grand Detroit Casino, the MotorCity Casino Hotel and Greektown Casino Hotel. Detroit seems to have enough casinos already, and adding more could take away revenue from the existing ones.
The casinos Michigan already has are clearly successful. The record-breaking revenues from 2011 are a testament to that. But those numbers cannot be sustained forever. An oversaturation of the Michigan market will take away from existing casinos. Michigan residents and nearby travelers will reach a point where they won’t spend any more money in the industry. Once that point is hit, the casinos will suffer.
In Las Vegas and other destination cities, people travel from around the country and world to visit the casinos and hotels. The Michigan gambling demographic consists mainly of Michigan residents and residents in neighboring states such as Ohio and Indiana. Without a huge market, it’s doubtful that Michigan would be able to support 22 new casinos.
Jake Miklojcik, president at Michigan Consultants in Lansing, said Michigan could safely support a 20-percent growth in casinos. This number seems more realistic than a nearly 100-percent growth. Without a large audience for the casino expansion, doubling the number in Michigan would be a risky gamble. Choosing a safer route by adding a few casinos in key areas would be a more responsible alternative that would create jobs and boost the surrounding area’s economy. Overexpansion will hurt the existing casinos and would not be beneficial to the state.