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Detroit’s Casinos Prepare to Reopen at 15 Percent Capacity

MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino-Hotel, and Motor City Casino-Hotel are allowed to reopen on Wednesday with coronavirus precautions in place

The Greektown entertainment district surrounding the Greektown Casino is shown at night with many restaurant and bar signs lit up and a sky walkway in the background leading to the casino floor.
Gerard + Belevender
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Despite increased restrictions on bars around the state, the governor is permitting Detroit’s casinos to reopen at 15-percent capacity beginning on Wednesday, August 5. Currently, Motor City Casino-Hotel and Greektown Casino-Hotel are all preparing to reopen by that date with new safety precautions in place, while MGM Grand Detroit will open Friday, August 7.

Like it or not, casinos are a big source of revenue in Detroit, pouring $184 million into the city’s tax coffers in 2019. Since closing down due to novel coronavirus restrictions in March, revenue at Detroit casinos has declined by 59.3 percent year over year — a big hit for the city’s budget. All three of the city’s gaming institutions have announced major staff layoffs of their hospitality workers.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s tribal casinos, which do not fall under the state’s legal jurisdiction, began reopening in May. Michigan’s capacity rules are much stricter than those of Las Vegas’ casinos, which attempted to reopen at 50 percent capacity in early June before the state had a mandatory mask order in place. Vegas’s Culinary Workers Union and Bartenders Union are now pushing for more protections for hospitality workers who face greater risks of exposure to novel coronavirus. Washington state’s tribal Emerald Queen Casino has faced similar criticism in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaint.

Under Michigan’s rules, everyone — staff, suppliers, and patrons — is required to undergo a temperature check and health screening before entering the premises. Smoking will no longer be allowed inside casinos, and patrons must wear face mask when they’re not eating or drinking. Self-serve food and beverages including buffets, coffee machines, soda machines are also shut down to reduce community spread of the virus and entertainment venues are closed. Valet services and coat checks are also off-limits. Likewise, casinos are required to follow strict protocols in terms of sanitizing, social distancing, and safety precautions for employees.

Here’s what Detroit’s casinos say they’re doing to reduce risk of COVID-19 infections during their partial reopening.:

MGM Grand Detroit

On the west end of downtown Detroit, MGM Grand is planning to open at 10 a.m. on August 7. MGM Resorts International’s “Seven-Point Safety Plan” covers basics like employee screenings, training, and temperature checks. While masks are required, drink service is permitted on the floor of the casino, meaning customers can take off their masks for short periods of time to sip a beverage. Food, however, is off-limits outside of dining areas. The company also states that it’s established physical distancing guides and barriers throughout the casinos and added more handwashing stations throughout its properties.

Several gaming options including the poker room, pai-gow poker, and craps will remain closed. Bars and restaurants will have limited hours and reduced seating including Tap (Wednesday through Sunday for dinner-only), National Coney Island (open daily), Axis Lounge (open from 5 p.m. on sans live entertainment), and the Casino Video Poker Bar (open 24 hours a day). While the hotel spa remains closed, the casino will begin booking overnight stays starting Tuesday, August 18. The valet parking area has been converted into an outdoor smoking area since smoking indoors is now prohibited under the state executive order.

Motor City Casino-Hotel

The Motor City Casino-Hotel is also planning to return to some normal operations at 10 a.m. on August 5. The casino states that it’s added additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility and is carefully monitoring occupancy not just of the casino but also of individual rooms within the building to improve social distancing. If customers come to the property without a mask, they’ll be provided with one. In addition to the required temperature and screening checks of customers and staff, if anyone in a group traveling together in a vehicle shows symptoms, they’ll be sent away from the property. The hotel is accepting reservations, but doesn’t accept cash payments. The spa remains temporarily closed as does the hotel restaurant Iridescence.

Greektown Casino-Hotel

The Greektown Casino is tentatively on track to open on August 5, “pending necessary approvals.” During the initial phase of reopening, Greektown will keep its banquet services and Poker Room closed. Restaurants including Prism and Stack’d will be open with carryout options available, while Noodle Art, Monroe Market, and Bistro 555 are staying closed for the time being. The casino states that it’s installed more than 50 sanitizing stations throughout the building as well as plexiglass around areas where workers are stationed such a gaming tables and cashier cages. Greektown Casino hasn’t yet announced a reopening date for the hotel.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that MGM Grand was opening on August 5 instead of August 7.

Executive Order Permits Detroit Casinos to Reopen [ED]
Considerations for Casinos & Gaming Operations [CDC]
Gov. Whitmer Says Gaming Control Board Plans to Temporarily Shut Down Michigan Casinos [ED]


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