For Now, Detroit Casinos Keep COVID-19 Rules In Place After Court’s Decision

Posted on October 6, 2020

Michigan officials and lawmakers spent the weekend and the early part of this week sorting out the ramifications of last week’s bombshell judicial decision.

For Detroit casinos so far, it’s business as usual: masks, 15% capacities, and no smoking.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday that unilateral emergency declarations by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in response to the pandemic are unconstitutional.

What does that mean for the Detroit casinos, whose COVID-19 protocols were among the most restrictive in the country?

MGCB guidelines for COVID-19 remain in place

Representatives from Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino all reported no changes on Monday to PlayMichigan. Each referred to the Michigan Gaming Control Board issuing its own order, with no plans to end compliance.

However, at the MGCB meeting on June 8, executive director Richard Kalm emphasized at the time that the protocols they were recommending were only guidelines.

They included a mask requirement, a 15% capacity restriction, and a smoking ban indoors. Whitmer used those guidelines in her order to allow the casinos to reopen on Aug. 5.

The day before two of the casinos reopened, Kalm issued his own order, adding teeth to the previous guidelines.

Mary Kay Bean, spokesperson for the MGCB, said the orders are still in place, and the board is reviewing the next steps.

“We should know more soon,” she wrote to PlayMichigan in an email Tuesday.

On sovereign land, Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos are not beholden to orders from Whitmer and the MGCB. All but one tribal casino, Kings Club Casino in Brimley, reopened after closing in March.

Detroit casinos deferring to MGCB order

The Detroit casinos closed March 16 because of the coronavirus spread, five days after the launch of sports betting.

Spokesperson Marvin Beatty told PlayMichigan on Monday that no loosening of mandates were imminent at Greektown.

“I doubt very seriously we would make those changes,” Beatty said. “Especially regressive ones.”

MGM Grand and MotorCity both responded to inquiries with similar responses.

Through a spokesperson, regional president David Tsai said MGM is adhering to the MGCB regulations and the company’s 7-Point Safety Plan.

A statement from MotorCity read:

“MotorCity Casino continues to adhere to the health and safety protocols issued by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. These protocols include health screenings for guests and employees, masks required while inside, social distancing, and regular sanitizing.”

Supreme court ruling hasn’t necessarily opened Michigan

On Monday, Whitmer asked the court to delay its decision’s effects until Oct. 30.

Then, her Department of Health and Human Services issued separate orders for some of the same requirements, including a mask mandate, limitations on gatherings, and restaurant and bar restrictions.

In addition, several counties across the state have issued their own mask mandates since the state supreme court’s ruling.

Detroit’s Wayne County will follow the state’s guidelines. County Executive Warren C. Evans reaffirmed Monday that masks are required.

Matt Schoch Avatar
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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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