MotorCity Casino

MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit, Michigan, USA is one of three casino resort hotels in the city, and one of four in the Detroit–Windsor area. The $825 million complex incorporates the historic Wagner Baking Company building designed c.1915 by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager, who went on to design the Roxy Theatre in 1927. As part of the renovation, the decorative terra cotta elements of this former bread bakery have been restored to their original condition, preserving the signature features of the 94-year old Detroit landmark. IH Gaming (Detroit Entertainment, LLC), doing business as Motor City Casino, is owned by Marian Ilitch. Ms. Ilitch's husband Michael who is a partner in the Detroit Red Wings hockey team and owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball team is prohibited under the rules of Major League Baseball from owning any interest in gambling establishments.Forbes reported in October 2006 that the gambling palace has annual revenues of $400+ million and operating income of $125 million, expected to rise to $180 million under the change in tax structure following completion of the resort. Detroit is one of the largest American cities and metropolitan regions to offer casino resort hotels.

Casino hotel

Motor City Casino completed its $300 million casino-hotel expansion project in 2007. A 400-room, 33 suite hotel opened in November 2007 and features Iridescence, one of two AAA Four-Diamond restaurants in Detroit, as well as Amnesia, an upscale ultra-lounge, and D. Tour, a full-service spa. The property also offers a 67,000 sq ft (6,200 m2) meeting/convention center, several casual dining outlets including the Assembly Line Buffet, and Sound Board a 1,500+ seat live entertainment theater. Legendary hot-rod car designer Chip Foose of Huntington Beach, California was a member of the design team and was instrumental in the casino-hotel's new unique exterior and interior look.


Marian Ilitch, one of the founders of the MotorCity Casino, purchased controlling interest from various minor stockholders and Mandalay Resort Group (Circus Circus Michigan)/MGM Mirage in 2005. Michigan gaming laws prohibit one company from owning more than one casino property in a market, so to affect the Mandalay Resort/MGM MIRAGE merger the publicly traded companies had to divest MotorCity Casino, choosing to keep MGM Grand Detroit. Mrs. Ilitch paid $525 million for Mandalay Resort Group's 53.5 percent interest in the MotorCity Casino enterprise and undertook a $300 million expansion. The acquisition was a merger in which Mandalay controlled Circus Circus Michigan, Inc. was survived by IH Gaming, Inc. MotorCity Casino is not a corporate entity; rather it is a dba for the Ilitch-owned and controlled Detroit Entertainment, LLC.

With Mrs. Ilitch as sole owner, MotorCity Casino Hotel is reportedly one of the largest independently owned casinos in the U.S. and likely the largest and only 100 percent female-owned casino enterprise in the United States. It is also the only locally-owned casino hotel in the city of Detroit.

Mrs. Ilitch and her husband Michael Ilitch are co-founders of Little Caesar's Pizza. They are vice chairwoman and chairman respectively of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. which includes the Detroit Red Wings NHL franchise and various food service and entertainment ventures. Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers MLB franchise.

Mrs. Ilitch and a business partner, Michael J. Malik, Sr., pursue other casino gambling interests outside of Michigan. Malik had been a founder of MotorCity Casino but was forced to sell his interests when the Michigan Gaming Control Board would not grant him a license. He sold his shares in MotorCity Casino to Ilitch. Among their other ventures: Gateway Casinos Resorts, LLC partnered with the Shinnecock Indians in the Hamptons, NY; and Barwest, LLC partners with the Big Lagoon Rancheria Indians and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians to develop casinos in Barstow, California.

MotorCity's potential should not be underestimated. Just across the river, Caesars Windsor attracts about six million visitors annually. An estimated 46 million people live within a 300 mi (480 km) radius of Metro Detroit. Since 2000, the City has seen continuous annual increases in tax revenues from its casinos; the City estimates it will collect $178,250,000 in casino taxes alone for 2007, with the casino resorts open in 2008.


According to the Center for Responsive Politics, reports required by the Federal Election Commission and the CA, MI and NY Elections Officials from 2002-2006 inidicate Ilitch family members and business partners contributed more than $900,000 to political campaigns and PACs.

Federal lobbying reports required to be filed with Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and compiled by The Center for Public Integrity indicate between $0.5-$1.3 million was directed to Wheat Government Relations (former Congressman Alan Wheat) the primary D.C. lobbyist representing Ilitch and her various partners contract with to lobby Federal officials on gaming or related matters from 2002-2005.

Union activity

At noon on October 16, 2007, the casino closed after a 12-hour extension of the prior labor contract expired. Union and management negotiators reached a tentative agreement later that day and the casino reopened at 5:00 p.m. Casino employees are represented by the United Auto Workers, Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Union, Teamsters, Carpenters Union and Operating Engineers Union.

Photo gallery
  • Chrome panels accent original tile work on the Grand River facade of the casino.

  • Casino details are designed to resemble a classic 1950s tailfin-style car.

  • Resort property with casino on the left and the high-rise hotel addition to the right.


2 photos

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