Greektown Casino-Hotel loses $31M but hangs its hopes on $125M renovation

Greektown Casino-Hotel lost nearly $31 million in 2013 and predicts another money-losing year in 2014, but hopes to eventually turn a profit with help from $125 million to $150 million in coming renovations courtesy of its new owner, Dan Gilbert.

The downtown Detroit casino revealed the loss in its annual earnings report Friday.

The report for the first time put a dollar amount on the upgrades being planned for the property by the Quicken Loans founder’s Rock Gaming organization.

Matthew Cullen, CEO of Rock Gaming, announced the renovation plans in December to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, but offered few specifics. He did say the upgrades would simplify the casino’s parking situation and interior layout, which first-time visitors can find confusing.

Friday’s report said the renovations and upgrade will include new slot machines. The work is scheduled to begin in the second half of the year and take two years to complete.

“We are planning to create a more open, spacious and inviting atmosphere as well as enhance our gaming offering, which we believe will enable us to attract new patrons and drive increased customer loyalty,” the report said.

The smallest of Detroit’s three casinos by size and revenue, Greektown hasn’t reported a profit since emerging from bankruptcy in June 2010. Much of its gambling proceeds get wiped out by operating expenses, taxes and debt payments.

Overall, 2013 was a down year for the Detroit casino market as total gambling revenues among the three properties fell 4.7% to $1.35 billion. Experts attribute some of the decline to the opening of Hollywood Casino Toledo.

Greektown Casino has just under 25% of the city’s casino market, behind MotorCity Casino Hotel and MGM Grand Detroit.

Gilbert bought Greektown last spring from the consortium of mostly out-of-state investors who took control during the bankruptcy. The casino’s original owner, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, estimated it spent close to $100 million of tribal money last decade plugging Greektown’s losses.

Rock Gaming owns two of the four Ohio casinos and plans to open another large casino in downtown Baltimore later this year.

Greektown Casino employed 1,824 people last year, 78% of whom are members of a union.

The report said the casino’s management have identified several “strategic initiatives” that will save money this year

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