Detroit’s Gamble Could Be the PR Move Motor City Needs

motor city casino

Is this Detroit’s final bet for a fixed city?

Back in December, we brought you a story concerning the dire need for PR in Detroit. A plea to the public may be the only thing to rescue this once thriving epicenter of commerce and really fine music.

The government has failed it. The auto industry has failed it. And now the folks of Detroit are $18 million in debt with only one ironic source of hope — gambling.

According to the Wall Street JournalDetroit’s three casinos pull in some nice coin, which is what was offered as collateral in the 2009 negotiations with some big banks to secure lower interest rates on its excruciating debt. And that forces us to re-ask the same question: where is the PR?

These three casinos are crucial to the city staying afloat as it tries not to drown in debt. Think about it: Detroit draws more money from casino taxes than … wait for it … property value from the assembly lines of Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.

On a list of the city’s 30 largest taxpayers, MGM Grand Detroit, the casino and hotel complex, had a total taxable value of $210 million, which is more than Chrysler’s $177 million. Greektown Casino had a total taxable value of $75 million, more than GM’s $73 million.

The article shares internal city documents reviewed by WSJ reporters. Based on that research, the city predicts casino revenue will stay essentially flat over the next 20 years, a trend that could cause problems down the road. All that money may not matter.

“This week, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is set to deliver his debt-cutting plan for the bankrupt city. He will rely heavily on the $170 million in gambling taxes generated annually for the city’s effort to cut crime and eliminate blight. Without it, the city’s finances were at risk of immediate collapse before Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection, Mr. Orr said.”

Detroit-Wild-CityNo, this is not the apocalypse. This is last month in Detroit.

Big PR has offices in Detroit. Big news has outlets in Detroit. Flacks have friends in Detroit. Yet, the one thing Detroit doesn’t have is good PR. The city has resigned itself to count on the debt of others for rescue, but now even that is in peril.

Promising, right? Yeah, if that’s the only glimmer of PR for Detroit, it has serious problems, which is why there needs to be some sort of Kumbaya moment among PR firms and news outlets to find a national headline with viral appeal. Shoot, even a Kickstarter campaign that Kid Rock and Motown alums could earn, say, $18 million?

In closing, think about this: When was the last time you have heard any serious news from Detroit? That’s where the PR needs to begin.