MGCB Welcomes New Board Members and Approves Transfer of Interest, Operator Licenses and Supplier Licenses
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”) held a board meeting on August 10, 2021. This was the first board meeting for three newly appointed board members, Ms. Linda Forte (chairperson), Mrs. Joni M. Thrower Davis, and Ms. Deidre A. Lambert-Bounds. Mr. Andrew T. Palms continues his board service with his term currently set to expire on December 31, 2023.
MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams opened the meeting with an executive report on the MGCB’s staffing and changes since the previous board meeting in June. Director Williams also led a presentation to the board regarding problem gambling and the continued efforts of the MGCB to recognize the importance of the issue and to provide education and treatment options to Michigan residents. Director Williams indicated that the MGCB was working on new educational materials that would be available to be disseminated. Mr. Williams also noted that the MGCB is seeking to improve educational efforts, especially surrounding problem gambling in adolescents and seniors.
The MGCB approved the application for the transfer of interest for gaming supplier, iGaming supplier and iSports supplier Sportradar Solutions, LLC (“Sportradar”). Sportradar is one the leading suppliers of sports data and other related bookmaking services to the Michigan marketplace and across the world.
The MGCB also approved the pending operator licenses of FireKeepers Development Authority d/b/a FireKeepers Casino Hotel and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Online gaming operator licenses are issued for a period of five years. In addition, the MGCB approved the pending iGaming supplier licenses of seven suppliers, including platform provider BetMGM, LLC d/b/a Roar Digital.
Finally, the MGCB approved the renewals of the casino licenses of Detroit Entertainment, LLC, d/b/a MotorCity Casino; Greektown Casino, LLC; and MGM Grand Detroit, LLC. The casino licenses are issued for a period of 1 year and must be renewed and approved annually.
As announced in a recent press release, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians recently held a press conference and ribbon cutting ceremony to announce that the Four Winds® Casinos in South Bend, Indiana was pleased to unveil its new Class III gaming amenities.
Matthew Wesaw, Tribal Council Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority, said, “Not only is Class III gaming in Indiana a historic and important milestone for the Pokagon Band and our Four Winds Casinos, but the expansion of Four Winds South Bend will create numerous additional economic benefits with the State of Indiana and the City of South Bend. We’ve also created hundreds of temporary constructions jobs, approximately 100 permanent new jobs to support our ongoing operations, and an education program for our Pokagon Citizens to attend state funded institutions of higher education, including 2- and 4-year colleges, plus trade/vocational schools with all expenses covered. It’s a great day to be Pokagon and we are very excited for what the future holds.”
Commenting on the Class III gaming amenities, Frank Freedman, Chief Operating Officer of Four Winds Casinos said, “Four Winds Casinos have consistently been ranked among the best gaming destinations in the country and we believe the addition of table games and popular Class III slot titles, combined with our 23-story hotel tower and several other amenities currently under construction, will bring the guest experience at Four Winds South Bend to another level and deliver on the premium resort-style feel and amenities you’ll find at other top resorts including Four Winds New Buffalo. We are very excited for this next phase of development and appreciate all the hard work and dedication of all Four Winds employees to help us reach this important milestone. We are excited and can’t wait to show everyone the finished product once construction is complete.”
With the announcement, Four Winds South Bend now offers 16 table games. They are currently in the process of installing many popular Class III slot titles with some of the most popular games already available. The process of converting all of Four Winds South Bend’s 1,400 plus slot machines to Class III will take several months to complete.
Four Winds South Bend currently has 140,000 square feet of gaming space and includes more than 1,400 games, four restaurants, a coffee shop, three bars, and approximately 4,500 parking spaces including an enclosed parking structure.
According to a press release issued by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the three Detroit casinos reported $116.9 million in monthly aggregate revenue in July. Table games and slots generated $115.7 million in revenue, and retail sports betting produced $1.2 million in revenue.
The July market shares were:
- MGM, 46 percent
- MotorCity, 34 percent
- Greektown, 20 percent
During June, table games and slot revenue was 9.3% higher than June results. Due to the pandemic the casinos were closed during July 2020. In July 2019, the three Detroit casinos recorded $119 million in monthly aggregate revenue.
Gaming revenue by casino in July was:
- MGM, $53.8 million
- MotorCity, $38.5 million
- Greektown, $23.4 million
The three Detroit casinos paid $9.4 million in gaming taxes to the State of Michigan. The casinos also reported submitting $13.8 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the City of Detroit in July.
The Detroit casinos reported a total gross sports betting receipts of $1,211,857, and total handle was $18,272,783. Retail sports betting qualified adjusted gross receipts for July 31 were $1,211,832. In qualified adjusted gross receipts, MotorCity led the way with $637,681, followed by Greektown with $437,203, and MGM with $136,948. The State of Michigan received $45,807 in retail sports betting taxes from all three Detroit casinos. The City of Detroit received $55,987 in retail sports betting from the three Detroit casinos.
For the month of June, fantasy contest operators reported total adjusted revenues of $1,312,438 million and paid $110,245 in taxes. Through June 30, fantasy contest operators reported total aggregate adjusted revenues of $8.3 million and paid $697,183 in taxes.
In a press release, the American Gaming Association (AGA) announced a new national advertising strategy that recommends the use of national gambling helplines in national advertising campaigns. With over a dozen problem gambling helplines available throughout the country, the AGA hopes its plans to streamline helpline requirements will enable operators to improve disclaimer readability and more effectively highlight problem gambling resources.
“Problem gambling helplines are a vital resource for those in need of help,” said Jessica Feil, AGA Vice President of Government Relations and Gaming Policy Counsel. “Lengthy lists of state-specific helplines on national advertisements create barriers for those seeking help when we should be making these critical resources easily accessible.”
While state-specific problem gambling disclaimer requirements remain important in local advertising, the AGA warns of a variety of issues that may result from inconsistent national advertising.
irst, the AGA warns that the display of multiple national and state-specific helpline numbers can result in a cluttered array of difficult to read fonts, effectively diminishing patron awareness of helpline resources. The barrage of phone numbers may also cause customer confusion, as customers may not know which number to call. Finally, the AGA noted that requirements to use a call-in helpline may distract problem gamblers from modern services, like text messaging and web-based chat support, that may provide better access to essential resources.
As gaming continues to expand throughout the country, according to Feil, the AGA believes “there shouldn’t be obstacles to help for those who need it, and a modernization of the helpline system for national advertising is a good place to start.”
In a policy statement, the AGA emphasized the importance of national gambling helplines. A streamlined national helpline can connect consumers directly to appropriate state resources or provide support for problem gamblers when state resources are unavailable. The AGA believes “this will achieve the most important goal: providing consumers help from the most direct and local service provider when they need it most.”