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20 Years Later: Detroit Casinos Paying Off

gaming and casino tax refundIt’s been 20 years since Michigan voters approved casino gambling in Detroit. Over the last two decades, Detroit has emerged as one of the top travel destinations for Canadians who like to gamble.


Gaming in Detroit, Michigan

In 1996, Michigan voters approved casino gambling in Detroit.1 More specifically, they affirmed that three casinos could be built within city limits: the MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino-Hotel, and MotorCity Casino Hotel.

It wasn’t exactly a resounding win for the casinos. When the polls closed, 1,878,542 voters, or just 51.5%, were in favour of allowing three casinos to be built in Detroit. Over the ensuing 20 years, gaming has thrived in Detroit and helped rejuvenate the city. Today, Michigan gaming is a $2.8-billion industry that generates more than $720 million in local, state, and federal tax.2

When it comes to gambling, Detroit is one of the most strategically situated gaming destinations. In addition to being the biggest city in Michigan, it is also the largest city that borders Canada. Each year, roughly 2.4 million Canadians visit Michigan where they spend $489 million while on vacation.3

Detroit can rely on more than just Canadians to fill its three casinos. It’s estimated that 46 million people live within a 300-mile (480 km) radius of Metro Detroit.4

Detroit Casino Revenue Up in April

According to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Detroit’s three casinos generated $122.35 million in April 2016, a slight 1.5% increase over the previous month. Leading the charge was the MGM Grand Detroit, whose 4,000 slot and video poker machines and 98 table games brought in $50.5 million in April, a 2.7% annual increase.5

The MotorCity Casino Hotel, with over 2,900 slot machines and 59 table games, generated $42.3 million in revenue, a 4.5% increase year-over-year. Greektown Casino-Hotel, with its 2,900 slot and video poker machines and assortment of table games, collected $29.5 million in revenue, up 4.9% from April of last year.

In addition to showing that the Detroit gaming industry is on a roll, this data also reveals that the MGM Grand Detroit is the most popular casino in the city, controlling 41% of the casino market. MotorCity has a 35% share, followed by Greektown with 24%.

While we’re only halfway into 2016, it’s looking like it will be a strong year for Detroit casinos. In 2015, Detroit casinos collected $1.38 billion, a 3.3% improvement over the $1.33 billion generated in 2014.6

Detroit’s Three Casinos

MGM Grand Detroit

With nearly 4,000 slot and video poker machines, 98 table games, and a non-smoking poker room, the 10,000-square-foot MGM Grand casino is the most popular destination in Detroit for those who love to gamble.7

In addition to the casino, the MGM Grand Detroit has a 401-room hotel, spa, restaurants, lounges, bars, and luxury shopping.

Greektown Casino-Hotel

Recently voted as having the best table games and best high limits, the Greektown casino is located in the hub of the Greektown district. At the 100,000-square-foot casino, you’ll find nearly 3,000 slot and video poker machines, table games, (roulette, craps, blackjack, etc.), and 12 poker tables. There is also a High-Limit room with $100 slots and dozens of table games.8

The Greektown Casino also has a 30-storey hotel with 400 guestrooms, casual and fine dining, a lounge, and bars.

MotorCity Casino Hotel

At the MotorCity casino, you can play over 2,900 slots and 59 table games (blackjack, roulette, pai gow poker, and craps). There is also a 12-table Poker Room featuring games to suit all levels of play.9

The luxury hotel has 400 guestrooms and suites, a 13,000-square-foot spa, live theatre, fine and casual dining, and a buffet.

U.S. Casino Winnings Subject to 30% Withholding Tax

If you are a non-U.S. resident and win a significant amount of money (typically over $1,200) in one of Detroit’s three casinos, your winnings could be subject to a 30% withholding tax.

If you win $2,000 on the slots, the casino will only give you $1,400. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) keeps the rest. But if you live in a country like Canada, which has signed a U.S. tax treaty, you may be eligible for a refund.

There are a number of countries that currently do not have a U.S. tax treaty. However, if you reside in any of the following countries, you could still be eligible for a refund: Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the U.A.E.

To see if you meet the criteria and are eligible to get some or all of your withholding tax back, contact RMS.

RMS: The Easiest Way to Get Your 30% Withholding Tax Back!

If you’ve visited a casino in Detroit or anywhere else in the U.S. and had 30% of your winnings withheld by the IRS, the tax refund experts at RMS can help you reclaim a portion or all of your taxable winnings.

RMS was founded by a Canadian Chartered Accountant in 1998. Since then, RMS has emerged as the most reliable and experienced wagering, gaming and casino tax refund provider for non-U.S. residents. Only RMS has the One Simple StepTM process. Our customer service agents take care of the rest.

Once you provide us with complete documentation, your claim will be processed and we will submit it to the IRS. RMS has never been refused an eligible refund.

Contact RMS today by calling our toll-free number at 1-888-272-5559 or by emailing us at [email protected].


1. Michigan Casino Gambling Act, Proposal E (1996), michigan.gov, http://www.michigan.gov/mgcb/0,1607,7-120-57144_57145-245360–,00.html.
2. 20 Years Later, Casinos Delivering for Detroit and Fueling its Resurgence, gettoknowgaming.org, http://www.gettoknowgaming.org/news/20-years-later-casinos-delivering-detroit-and-fueling-its-resurgence.
3. Michigan, can-am.gc.ca, http://can-am.gc.ca/business-affaires/fact_sheets-fiches_documentaires/mi.aspx?lang=eng.
4. Detroit Metropolitan, natca.org, http://dtw.natca.org/aboutmetrodetroit.htm.
5. Detroit Casinos, Calendar Year 2016, Michigan.gov, http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mgcb/revstaxes_2015_480801_7.pdf.
6. Detroit Casinos, Calendar Year 2015, Michigan.gov, http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mgcb/Revstaxes_2016-1-12_480801_523778_7.pdf.
7. MGM Grand Detroit, mgmgranddetroit.com, http://www.mgmgranddetroit.com/casino/.
8. Greektown Casino-Hotel, greektowncasino.com, https://www.greektowncasino.com/casino/?.
9. MotorCity Casino Hotel, motorcitycasino.com, https://www.motorcitycasino.com/Gaming.aspx

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