No Reopening In Sight: Detroit Casinos Remain Closed As Pandemic Worsens

Written By Matt Schoch on July 13, 2020 - Last Updated on March 18, 2024
michigan casino reopening

As Michigan moves backward in the COVID-19 reopening process, the return of casino gambling in Detroit seems further away by the day.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tightened restrictions Friday in the state amid an unsettling second wave of infections after a rough spring in southeast Michigan.

People must wear face masks in indoor public places as well as crowded outdoor spaces. Before, businesses could choose to require patrons to wear masks; now, they have to.

This mandate closes the door on smoking inside of Detroit’s trio of casinos for now. It also begs the question: When will Greektown Casino-Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino reopen?

There were once hopes that the trio would be open by the Fourth of July weekend. Though that was just over a week ago, it seems much further ago than that.

Michigan coronavirus cases climb again

Whitmer’s order went into effect Monday and carries a misdemeanor penalty of up to $500. Whitmer said in a statement:

“Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70%. By wearing masks, we can save lives and protect our family, friends and neighbors from the spread of COVID-19.”

The governor suggested detractors wear masks with their chosen political message on them, including floating an “I hate masks” accessory.

On Thursday, the state reported nine new COVID-19 deaths and 446 new cases. The Great Lakes State had a six-week high for new cases last week, surpassing 2,500 during the week ending July 4.

Michigan casinos were closed March 16, five days after sports betting opened in Detroit.

Ohio casino dealing with new normal in Toledo

Meanwhile, Hollywood Casino Toledo is dealing with its new reality about an hour’s drive south on I-75 to Ohio.

According to the Toledo Blade, customers appear to be adapting well to the changes three weeks into reopening.

Masks are required for employees but not customers, and 6 feet of distance is required where there is not a barrier.

All but one Michigan tribal casino remains open

Twenty-two of Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos remained open this week, though not without their share of challenges.

Kings Club Casino in Brimley is the state’s only tribal casino that remains closed. The Kings Club sister property, Bay Mills Resort & Casino, has reopened just over 2 miles away.

Odawa Casino in Petoskey, Soaring Eagle Casino Resort in Mount Pleasant and Gun Lake Casino in Wayland all previously announced that individuals who later tested positive had been in their facilities.

Kewadin, Turtle Creek announce possible exposure

Add Kewadin Casinos to the list after the company disclosed a customer who later tested positive visited the Sault Ste. Marie location on the morning of July 6 and the afternoon of July 7.

The guest also took the shuttle at the casino.

“We are committed to maintaining a clean and safe environment,” read a Facebook post from Kewadin Casinos. “We remain vigilant and continue to practice safety procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you are sick or have any symptoms, please stay home and reach out to your local health officials. When you do go into public areas – wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands often.”

In addition, customers at Turtle Creek Casino in Williamsburg had possible exposure from 8:30 until 9:15 p.m. on July 5 at blackjack tables, according to 9&10 News.

According to the Grand Traverse County Health Department, fellow patrons should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms 14 days from the exposure date.

Bingo room closing at Leelanau Sands

That’s not to say it’s business at usual at every tribal casino, despite none re-closing their doors.

Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge announced Friday it would be temporarily closing its bingo room immediately.

The announcement said there have been no health incidents and that bingo would return at a later date to the Peshawbestown casino.

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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 former 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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