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Thread: Gambling On Detroit / Gambling In Detroit

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
    May 2003
    Northwestern Ohio

    Gambling On Detroit / Gambling In Detroit

    Today the spanking new big money Las Vegas-style gambling casino opened in Detroit. The MGM Grand is getting a lot of airplay. It is being called the only Vegas-style casino in a major city (except Vegas).

    It includes an 18-story hotel, what appears to be thousands of slots, big-time gaming, high-end restaurants. It really looks impressive.

    Note: Detroit has 3 gambling casinos. They opened in 1999, with original plans to operate in temporary locations, but eventually line the riverfront. The riverfront plans were dropped.....and the MGM Grand is the first of the 3 to erect a permanent facility.

    The 3 Detroit casinos accumulate revenue in the range of 1.3 billion dollars $ per/year. Since they opened in 1999 they have paid over 1 billion dollars $ in taxes and fees to Detroit.

    At the same time, Detroit's crime rate in the downtown area has dropped considerably.

    My question: Will this gamble "on" Detroit pay off? Will it lead to further development of the area in and around downtown Detroit?

    At first blush.....it's working. Will this continue?

    What say you?

    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Mar 2005
    London, UK
    Interesting question/issue.

    Leaving aside any ‘moral’ considerations, all else being equal, a large casino has obviously been a draw and as long as the relative ‘exclusivity’ of that locale can be maintained (i.e. you don’t open casinos in nearby towns / neighbourhoods), it’s likely to continue. It’s a fairly labor-intensive industry, too, so a good number of low- and medium-skilled jobs (plus the specialized ones …).

    I guess that if I were the mayor, I’d try to capitalize on the draw of that attraction to generate more business.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  3. #3
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Land of Confusion
    There may be retail opportunities but it will take a concerted effort to try and establish downtown living IMO.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    There may be retail opportunities but it will take a concerted effort to try and establish downtown living IMO.
    I've not yet set foot into the MGM Grand, but here is what I do know:

    Small upscale stores are supposed to be integrated into the casino in similar fashion as what you find in Las Vegas. One store, for example is supposed to sell Rolexes.

    All four casinos (if you count the one in Windsor) are spread out far enough apart from each other as to have very little impact on pedestrian traffic. Of the four, the two that generate the most are the Greektown Casino and Casino Windsor/Caesers. Both are located in parts of the City where folks walk. However, since one is in Canada and the other the United States, you get very little cross traffic between the two. The MGM Grand sits on old parking lots for the utility company and stuck surrounded on 3 sides by freeways/ramps. This leaves little attractiveness for pedestrians.

    If the casinos were a couple of blocks closer into each other, you would have some walking activity, but a separation was wanted between the business district and the casinos so folks like me don't go blow their paychecks during lunch.

    The end result is folks just drive up to the casinos, park, gamble, then leave. Little money leaves the walls of the casinos. What little money there is that leaves helps to support small businesses such as suppliers of niche items or in the case of Greektown and Windsor, restraunts and bars.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    I guess it will depend on if people who come to Detroit for the casinos will spend money elsewhere. Maybe they will catch a Lions, Tigers, or Wings game, head up to the Ford Museum, or stay at the Cadillac Book Hotel (once it’s done).

    Overall, I think that it will help the redevelopment, but will just be once piece in a massive puzzle of redevelopment.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Aug 2001
    Gale Crater
    I want to dismiss Detroit's casinos as delusory, but that position detracts from the determined efforts of former mayor Dennis Archer to re-develop a declining city and re-shape its economy. His waterfront redevelopment effort was flawed, but at least he had a plan. He tried to make it work, given the circumstances that he created for himself. In many ways, the revised casino plan turned out to be a surprising success. Yet eight years since the first casino opened, many of Detroit's neighborhoods continue to empty and the school district is in freefall. The new MGM Grand casino is hardly any sort of landmark charting the course of a "new" Detroit. Michiganders familiar with the hopes and transformative effects the Renaissance Center was to have on Detroit should never forget the shortcomings that came with that very particular building design. Just like the Renaissance Center, casinos have a singular focus, and it's all about what's inside. More to the point, as the temporary casinos become permanent, marked by the fact that lodging is now available on-site, patrons have no reason to venture away from action inside. A building will not transform a city. Only the people can do that. The leaders in Detroit must be willing to shift their focus from the entertainment district to the places that surround it. By creating meaningful connections to Corktown or the Gratiot Avenue area, more people will have more reasons to be in Detroit.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Veloise's avatar
    May 2004
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I guess it will depend on if people who come to Detroit for the casinos will spend money elsewhere. Maybe they will catch a Lions, Tigers, or Wings game, head up to the Ford Museum, or stay at the Cadillac Book Hotel (once it’s done).

    Overall, I think that it will help the redevelopment, but will just be once piece in a massive puzzle of redevelopment.
    My guess on that would be no. Might be a sports fan who drops into a casino to throw away some cash, but the reverse is not likely to happen.

    FWIW, all of the permanent casino plans include their own hotels.

    No offense intended to casino regulars; they don't seem to be interested in anything except the one-armed bandit (or whatever they are playing). There's a reason those places don't have windows. Go look at old cars or the Christmas carnival? Nah.

    One of my favorite people relocated to Detroit for her gaming mgmt career (at Greektown). She and hubby are now on their way to Kentucky, having been offered mgmt positions at casinos there.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
    May 2005
    The Fox Valley
    Blog entries
    I'm not totally against casinos, and sometimes they can help spur development, but only when they are part of a larger plan. A casino isn't going to be the only thing to transform or save a downtown, a city, etc. Look at East St. Louis, IL. They thought a casino alone was going to save them, but it just turns out that people come to gamble on the river and then get the f--- out of there as soon as possible.

    Elgin, IL built a riverboat casino downtown and it is the most profitable casino in Illinois, but in my opinion it was the streetscape improvements, the park improvements, the adding of more quality shops and restaurants, the addition of quality residential buildings, and the renovation or addition of prominent public buildings that really made a difference in downtown Elgin. Granted, Elgin probably relied on the proceeds from the casino to make a lot of these improvements.

    But just adding a casino here, a new ballpark here isn't going to do the trick in Detroit, or anywhere for that matter. People are just going to drive there, spend money in the casino, and then leave. Using the proceeds from the casinos and trying to attract positive development around these casinos and ballparks may do the trick, but its not the venues alone that will make the difference. What is needed are more restaurants, more bars, more theaters, more shops, and most of all...more residences (i.e. condos) to support all these uses. The combination of these bustling venues and adding lots more residences to the area can make downtown Detroit bustling again. But if there's no one living down there, nothing's going to change.

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