Casinos Are Back In Detroit As Greektown, MotorCity Reopen

Written By Matt Schoch on August 5, 2020 - Last Updated on August 18, 2020
Greektown Casino Aug 5 reopening

After 139 days without legal gambling in the city of Detroit, at least one local resident was very ready for Wednesday.

Word is the first Michigan resident to get in line for MotorCity Casino and its 10 a.m. opening arrived at 5 a.m. By the opening hour for two city casinos on Wednesday, dozens were lined up.

After nearly five months of closures for Detroit’s casinos, two gambling houses reopened Wednesday to steady crowds, despite an order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to maintain a 15% maximum capacity.

After being closed since March 16, Greektown Casino-Hotel and MotorCity reopened their doors to customers, while MGM Grand Detroit will reopen at 10 a.m. on Friday.

Different feel to Detroit casinos in COVID-19 era

The marquee atop Greektown has had #DETROITSTRONG lit up high in the Motor City sky for months.

On Wednesday, it was changed to “WELCOME BACK WE ARE OPEN!” for the occasion.

No smoking, plexiglass everywhere, and required masks were the biggest noticeable changes at the venues on Wednesday.

The casinos are operating under the guidelines from the Michigan Gaming Control Board this summer and approved by the governor.

Table games were not open yet at Greektown on Wednesday afternoon but were all outfitted with plexiglass to protect the dealer and the maximum of three customers per table from each other. Table games were scheduled to open later on Wednesday.

The casinos have implemented social distancing measures for slot machine play, with banks of three slots featuring only the middle one open at MotorCity. At Greektown, banks of five machines had only two of them working.

15% capacities not yet reached on opening day

MotorCity Casino was nearing its temporary capacity of 1,600 customers early on Wednesday afternoon, but the line outside was still steadily streaming in customers.

Earlier, customers were lined up on Temple Street for the reopening.

At Greektown, there’s only one way in and one way out these days.

The street-level entrances on Monroe and Lafayette streets are closed and customers were lined up at three checkpoints Wednesday, including two before and after the third-floor skywalk over Monroe.

The poker rooms at all of Detroit’s casinos will remain closed temporarily. Valet service is suspended temporarily. None of the casinos have opened their hotels yet.

MGM will have space for about 1,800 patrons with the new capacity restrictions, according to a spokesperson last week.

MGM was reportedly open for VIP guests on Wednesday and also will be on Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Greektown Sportsbook is back; others coming soon

Sports betting opened in Detroit on March 11, five days before the coronavirus shutdown.

Greektown opened its sportsbook as part of its reopening on Wednesday. About 10 people were placing bets in the Kambi system about 15 minutes after the reopening.

The Penn National Gaming casino is still working out of its temporary facility, the old poker room.

However, construction started on the new facility during the hiatus. Permanent walls are up around the future sportsbook, which will be branded as a Barstool Sportsbook and be in the middle of the casino floor.

A Greektown spokesperson did not return messages from PlayMichigan concerning an expected launch date for the new sportsbook.

MotorCity will reopen its FanDuel Sportsbook at 11 a.m. on Friday. Little Caesars Pizza and Pit Stop Deli, both in the food court, are the only dining options for now.

MGM Grand Detroit will reopen its BetMGM Sportsbook on Friday as part of its reopening, though the lounge will not be available. National Coney Island, TAP sports bar, and Axis Lounge will open on Friday.

State, city have lost loads of revenue

During the Detroit shutdown, corporate owners and local governmental units have lost millions.

This week, the American Gaming Association released an updated report on the Michigan gambling industry.

In it, the group estimated that 26 casinos statewide:

  • Have $6.3 billion of annual economic impact on the state
  • Raise $1.3 billion in state and local taxes each year
  • Support $2.1 billion in wages along with nearly 38,000 jobs

The group estimated the shutdown cost state and local governments $114.1 million in revenue. That includes $46.2 million for K-12 education and $67.8 million in revenue for Detroit youth development programs, economic development projects, and other local improvement initiatives.

All but one Michigan tribal casino already opened

Elsewhere, all but one of the state’s 23 tribal casinos have already reopened this summer after closing in March.

A chain of Upper Peninsula casinos made news this week in its efforts to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

On Tuesday, Kewadin Casinos announced an enhanced partnership with Agilysys, Inc., which includes contactless food and beverage ordering at its five UP casinos.

The service, IG OnDemand, expands on the existing relationship between the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians casino group and the vendor.

The only tribal casino unopened is Kings Club Casino in Brimley. However, the Bay Mills Indian Community has opened its sister facility two miles away, Bay Mills Resort & Casino.

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 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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