Detroit casinos caught in city’s bankruptcy case

Remember how Detroit, Michigan made news last year for being the first city in the United States to declare bankruptcy? Well, that bankruptcy issue is back in the news again, and this time Detroit’s casinos are involved.

Here’s the story. Back in 2009, the City of Detroit offered up casino revenue as collateral as it borrowed a whole bunch of money to help meet some pension obligations. Well, Syncora Guarantee Inc, a bond insurer, has been trying to tie up the funds.

In August 2013, a bankruptcy judge ruled that the casino revenues were property of the City of Michigan and therefor protected by the bankruptcy process. In a nutshell, Syncora really couldn’t stop the funds from making their way to city coffers.


Syncora appealed (who wouldn’t) and now the money is tied up again. Taxes collected from Detroit’s three casinos brought the City of Detroit $9.3 million in May, so there’s a steady stream of revenue coming in, albeit not enough to put a dent in the city’s financial troubles.

How does Detroit look today?

There are three casinos in Detroit – MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit, and Greektown Casino. They’re all within the general vicinity of one another and ultimately compete with one another. They also compete with Caesars Windsor on the other sde of the Detroit River, up in Canada. Actually, I should say “down” in Canada in this context because Windsor, Canada is actually south of Detroit, believe it or not (go ahead, check Google Maps for proof).

Now, after touring all four casinos in the area, I’m not even sure how the Detroit casinos bring in that much tax revenue. Caesar’s Windsor is by far a much better casino than anything you’d find in Detroit. It’s classier. It feels safer. The food is better. It’s much cleaner. And the crowds are generally more respectful of the dealers and other casino staff than on the other side of the border. Caesar’s Windsor tends to be more Vegas-style than the Detroit casinos, minus the smoke-filled air (yup, there’s no smoking at Caesars Windsor due to Ontario’s anti-smoking laws).

Anyway, I digress. I’ve gone on a bit of tangent. This article was about how Detroit is bankrupt and the casino revenue of the three properties is in limbo, not how the casino on the other side of the border is 100x better.

But there is a point to all of this if Syncora wants the Detroit casino tax revenue it thinks it’s owed, they might be better off just gambling in Windsor. After all, that city isn’t going bankrupt any time soon and the casino continues to flourish.


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