Striking Detroit Casino Workers Call For Online Gambling Boycott

Written By Drew Ellis on November 13, 2023 - Last Updated on November 15, 2023
The words

As the Detroit casino workers’ strike hits Day 28, the intensity has picked up over the weekend.

We know the sides are still far apart on key negotiation issues and the union workers are bearing down for the long haul.

This past weekend, the Detroit Casino Council turned its attention to calling for a boycott of the online casino partners of the three Detroit casinos.

Also, one of the Detroit casinos expressed frustration over recent bonfires for the striking workers, associating it with a chant from the union and tying it to a potential threat.

DCC calls for boycott of online casinos

This weekend, the Detroit Casino Council turned its attention to the online casinos of the three Detroit casinos:

With the workers’ strike extending into a fifth week on Tuesday, the union wants to draw the attention past just the local casinos.

Starting Monday, the DCC is kicking off a digital ad campaign to urge the public against using the Michigan online casinos and Michigan online sportsbooks partnered with the Detroit casinos. Those are:

  • BetMGM
  • FanDuel
  • Barstool

On Tuesday, ESPN Bet is scheduled to launch in place of Barstool Sportsbook in Michigan. Hollywood Casino Online will eventually replace Barstool’s online casino.

“Online sports betting and online casino platforms like FanDuel, ESPN BET, and BetMGM are critical sources of revenue for the companies that operate Detroit’s three casinos,” said Nia Winston, President of UNITE HERE Local 24, said in a press statement. “Workers have been outside the physical locations 24/7 since going out on strike three weeks ago to win a fair contract. Now, they’re calling on the public not to cross their virtual picket line either, and to boycott these apps until the strike is settled.”

Virtual strike could force parent companies to act

PlayMichigan projects that the three Detroit casinos are collectively losing $1.5-$2.5 million per day during the strike.

While the three casinos don’t bring in a large percentage of the revenue the online casinos and online sportsbook make, two of the three parent companies do.

MGM Resorts International owns MGM Grand Detroit and operates BetMGM Michigan. The same goes for PENN Entertainment when it comes to Hollywood Casino at Greektown and the Barstool/ESPN online operations.

FanDuel is not associated with MotorCity Casino outside of their online partnership. The Ilitch family owns MotorCity Casino, but has no control of FanDuel.

A virtual strike could lead these parent companies to get more involved in the strike situation. Neither will want to see losses to their online product, especially their online casinos.

In 2023, the three online casinos are averaging the following over the first 273 days of the year:

That’s not factoring in online sportsbook revenue as well.

With ESPN Bet set to launch on Tuesday, PENN Entertainment can’t be excited about a call for an online boycott in Michigan.

Hollywood Casino upset with bonfires for union workers

Last week the Detroit Casino Council returned to city hall to ask for a “Detroit Strikers Bill of Rights.”

The measures were to help ensure the health and safety of picketers as temperatures drop. That includes being allowed to use propane heaters and controlled bonfires to stay warm.

One casino in particular isn’t happy with the bonfires being allowed by the Detroit Fire Department.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown isn’t pleased with the decision, associating it with recent chants of the striking workers that include the phrase “burn it down.”

“We are incredibly disappointed with the fire department’s irresponsible choice to allow the Detroit Casino Council to light bonfires adjacent to our facility,” John Drake, the VP & General Manager of Hollywood Casino at Greektown said in a statement to PlayMichigan.

“While we continue to have constructive discussions with their leadership to reach a resolution to the work stoppage, striking members have regularly chanted ‘burn it down’ as they picket our building. This reckless decision could endanger our team members, customers, and neighboring businesses, as well as the broader public.”

Following the reports of negotiations still being far apart, both sides are starting to get more aggressive in attacking the other. It’s clear this strike looks to still be far from ending.

Photo by PlayMichigan
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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