Will It Be A Happy 4th Of July For Detroit Casinos?

Posted on June 2, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced another loosening of state restrictions on Monday, but the three commercial casinos in Detroit are still on the waiting list.

Some Michigan casinos are open. Ten of Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos opened this week. Most others are announcing reopening plans, however, permission has not yet been granted for Detroit casinos reopening.

Whitmer announced Monday that Michigan would enter Phase 4 on June 8, allowing bars and restaurants statewide to open at a 50% capacity as the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, that is not good enough for Detroit’s commercial casinos:

The three casinos have been closed since March 16 and are subject to Whitmer’s orders.

Gov. Whitmer says July 4 possible for Phase 5

During Monday’s press conference, the Michigan governor also hinted toward more relaxed restrictions coming soon, according to The Detroit News.

“If the current trajectory continues, I anticipate in the next few weeks we will be able to announce the rest of the state moving into Phase 5.”

The governor said she hopes the state can move to Phase 5, which is called the “containing” phase, before July 4.

Though Michigan casinos are not explicitly listed on Whitmer’s phased plans, that’s presumably the level where they will be allowed to reopen.

Bars and restaurants are listed on Phase 5, but Whitmer made inclusions for them Monday to be included in Phase 4, the “improving” phase.

Detroit casinos have all announced safety plans

While its two city counterparts already announced safety plans, MotorCity Casino announced its reopening plan on Tuesday.

The plan hit all the high notes that many across the country have already, focusing on areas such:

  • Cleanliness
  • Screening
  • Social distancing
  • Personal protection equipment (PPE)

Previously, MGM Resorts recently announced a Seven-Point Safety Plan for reopening. Additionally, the Greektown parent company Penn National Gaming previously announced national guidelines for its facilities to open.

Closures have vast economic impact on city, state

The city of Detroit recently released estimates that casino closures are costing their coffers $600,000 per day. The city will be out $112 million by next summer, according to those estimates.

The casinos had adjusted gross receipts of $1.45 billion in 2019. From that, a 10.9% wagering tax raised more than $184 million for the city.

The state of Michigan also took in more than $117 million from Detroit casinos in 2019.

Opening by July 4 is a crucial first step to help the casinos start recovering from the financial impact brought on by the global pandemic.

Coronavirus numbers improving in Michigan

Michigan was one of the hardest-hit states in the coronavirus pandemic, with 5,516 deaths reported as of Monday afternoon.

However, the 25 reported new deaths Monday continue the current statewide positive trend.

“We’re seeing our numbers continue to improve, and that is cause for feeling optimistic,” Whitmer said. “Nobody wants to move backward, but if we see a spike coming, we may have to.”

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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