Could Workers’ Strike Send Detroit Gamblers To Hollywood Casino Toledo?

Written By Brian Cross on October 20, 2023
A photo of the MGM Grand Detroit for a story about how the Detroit casino strike could affect Ohio casinos.

Thousands of casino workers at Detroit’s three casinos are on strike. The three casinos say they plan to remain open without gaming for employees, food and beverage workers and hotel staff.

But that could cost those properties significant revenue if the strike drags on.

It’s an unfortunate situation for the workers, casinos and Michigan gamblers that frequent them. However, the gap in the market could drive revenue to Ohio casinos.

Toledo is just 60 miles from Detroit

Hollywood Casino Toledo is roughly 60 miles south of Detroit. It could fill that gap in the interim.

The Detroit Casino Council is a collective of unions representing the three casinos’ employees. The council estimates the casinos could lose $3.4 million each day of the strike.

That’s a lot of money that could make it to other entertainment venues.

Photo of Hollywood Casino Toledo, which is 60 miles from Detroit and may benefit from the Detroit casino workers' strike
Hollywood Casino Toledo

Why Detroit casinos workers are on strike

The strike commenced Tuesday at noon after the casinos and the unions failed to reach a labor deal by the deadline.

Workers are asking for higher wages, better benefits and better working conditions. The previous agreement was reached in 2020. In that deal, workers agreed to minimal pay increases over three years to help the casinos during the pandemic and the resulting casino shutdowns.

Since 2020, the cost of living has increased significantly. Workers say they deserve higher pay to keep up with rising costs. The unions haven’t disclosed specifics about the wages they’re seeking.

Detroit’s casino landscape

Detroit is home to the only three commercial casinos in Michigan. The rest of the state is filled with tribal-owned properties.

MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown are the only properties affected by the strikes.

The casinos remain open for now, but with some areas closed. Slot machines can continue operating, but table games and food service will be closed or limited. Visitors to those casinos will likely notice the lack of amenities and service, especially if the limited staff of managers working extra hours struggles to keep up.

Detroit casino patrons don’t have many alternatives to the three local casinos. The nearest in-state casino is tribal-owned FireKeepers in Battle Creek. It’s a two-hour drive from Detroit.

For many, a suitable substitute sits just over the Canadian border at Caesars Windsor. Caesars Windsor welcomes American visitors, accepting U.S. currency at its restaurants, hotel and gift shop. Additionally, they offer a better currency exchange rate than banks.

Of course, Americans need a passport to cross into Canada. Crossing an international border will take extra time as well. If that’s not a suitable option, a trip to Toledo is the next-best option.

Can Detroit’s high revenues leak into Ohio casinos?

Hollywood Casino Toledo could see an uptick in visitors from the Motor City, boosting the PENN-owned property’s bottom line.

Detroit’s three casinos generate more revenue than Ohio’s four commercial casinos in the state’s largest cities. But that number doesn’t include Ohio’s seven racinos. They offer slot machines but no live table games.

March was the highest-grossing month this year for Detroit and Ohio casinos. That month, Ohio casinos earned $93.5 million compared to Detroit’s $117.8 million. Hollywood Toledo earned $20.7 million that month.

Detroit’s casino market is in Toledo’s backyard. And it’s larger than all of Ohio’s. Now, Detroit casinos are operating with a limp.

It’s possible that Hollywood Toledo will notice a bump in attendance because of the strike in Detroit, especially if it’s elongated. But Caesars Windsor will likely benefit the most of any brick-and-mortar venue.

Michigan’s online casinos will fill the rest of the void.

Photo by AP Photo / Paul Sancya
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Brian Cross

Brian Cross contributes sports betting, casino and lottery coverage to PlayOhio and PlayPennsylvania. Brian studied Professional Writing and Journalism at the University of Cincinnati and has been a contributing writer at Cincinnati’s alt-weekly for over 10 years.

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