Michigan Casinos Continue To Push Back Reopening Dates During COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted By Matt Schoch on April 7, 2020

As Michigan fights what residents hope are its worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic, some casinos are still officially on track to be open for business next week.

But as some have already pushed back reopening plans past Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order date of April 13, it’s unlikely bets will be placed anytime soon.

 

Hopeful for a May re-start

All 26 Michigan casinos have been closed since last month with many already looking to next month as the next possible time for open doors.

“At this time our primary focus is to practice social distancing,” according to a Facebook post from Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, which did not designate a reopening date but has postponed concerts through June 25. “We are choosing to support Governor Whitmer’s mandate to make sure we are doing what’s best to protect our guests and employees.”

The state’s 23 tribal casinos are under no obligation to follow Whitmer’s rules, though many are already pushing reopening dates back past Whitmer’s “stay-at-home” order.

Interim CEO Allen Kerridge announced the five Kewadin Casino locations in the Upper Peninsula will remain closed through April 30. The original reopening date was April 6, then April 14, but a March 31 update indicated an April washout.

Island Resort & Casino in Harris of the U.P. originally set April 6 as a reopen date, but announced April 2 it would extend through that date and “will only reopen when it is safe to do so.”

 

Detroit casinos update

Detroit’s trio of casinos – Greektown Casino-Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino – are all subject to Whitmer’s order and have not announced extensions to the closure, which was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. April 13 after shutting down on March 16.

All this as the expected tough numbers were announced Monday by the Michigan Gaming Control Board: An 18.5% dip in first quarter aggregate revenue for Detroit’s casinos to $299.2 million, fueled mostly by missing about half of March, which had a 59.1% crash from March 2019 to $57.4 million.

 

Full-scale legal sports betting still on hold

After years of attempts, retail sports betting opened March 11 at MGM Grand and Greektown and on March 12 at MotorCity while sports leagues rapidly suspended play because of the coronavirus spread.

Still, retail sports betting netted $3,990 in taxes for the state and $4,876 in Detroit taxes. The casinos reported $105,548 adjusted gross receipts from sports betting ($84,695 at MGM Grand; $15,904 at Greektown; and $4,949 at MotorCity).

Michigan is one of the hardest hit states from the pandemic with Whitmer announcing Tuesday another 1,749 confirmed cases and 118 deaths. Michigan has the third-most cases nationally with 18,970 and has lost 845 residents.

“We are still in the early up-slope of what is going to hit Michigan incredibly hard,” the governor said in a call with reporters, according to The Detroit News.

 

Lower peninsula tentative re-opening dates

Around the lower peninsula, there are a variety of reopening dates set: The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians had estimated April 13 as a reopening date for Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel in Williamsburg and Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge in Peshawbestown; the Odawa Casinos locations in Petoskey and Mackinaw City are also currently slated to reopen April 13; and Little River Casino Resort in Manistee reports an April 14 reopening.

Soaring Eagle, Saganing Eagles Landing Casino & Hotel in Standish, FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek; and the three Four Winds Casino locations in southwest Michigan have not specified reopening dates, and Gun Lake Casino in Wayland announced Tuesday it is extending its latest closure, which was previously through April 13.

In the U.P., the Ojibwa Casino locations in Marquette and Baraga are closed through April 12; Bay Mills Resort & Casinos in Brimley are closed through the end of April; and Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet pushed its April 11 reopening until May 1.

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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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