How much money do the Michigan tribes make from gambling?

Alex K.

Michigan has 12 Native American tribes that operate land-based casinos. There are 24 tribal casinos in total across the state, all offering real money slots and table games. Each one runs legal casino gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA). 

As well as roulette and blackjack, all tribal casinos offer hundreds of video poker games and slot machines. Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel offers over 1,200 slot machines alone.

And instead of a set tax, tribal casinos must give over 2% of total net win from certain games. Payments are based on net win from Class III electronic games like slots and other terminals. The revenue payments go toward the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) or Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF).

For 2019, tribal casinos gave over $54m in payments to the MEDC and MSF. The MEDC provides financial assistance to businesses in Michigan and promotes the state worldwide. Indeed, since 1994 Michigan tribes operating casinos have paid over $497m in revenue shares to local funds.

Some tribes have paid in more than others. From 1993 to 2015, for example, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa paid nearly $35m, while the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians paid over $50m.

In comparison, the three commercial casinos in Detroit took over $623m in revenue for 2019 alone. Total city wagering tax for Detroit stood at $184.2m.

At the end of 2019, Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, signed three gaming acts into law. The Lawful Internet Gaming Act, Lawful Sports Betting Act, and Fantasy Contests Consumer Protection Act allow Indian tribes in Michigan to launch online gambling websites.

The tribes will be allowed to apply to the MGCB for online licenses and will adhere to state rules. Under the new law, tribes are also allowed to open sportsbooks in their casinos.

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