Michigan casinos are starting to reopen their doors after nearly two full months of closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The closures cost the state, corporate owners, local communities and tribes, and several other entities millions of dollars in revenue.
But while the 26 casinos were closed, they were still making an impact on their communities in positive ways.
For example, many of the facilities donated excess food to local food banks after they closed. According to our count, Michigan casinos combined to donate about 58,150 pounds of food (and counting) to local organizations.
PlayMichigan has collected a list below of the efforts. If you know any others, email Matt Schoch at [email protected], and we’ll update this report.
The Battle Creek casino donated 7 tons of produce to the South Michigan Food Bank in the early stages of the crisis and had team members volunteer at the facility.
The FireKeepers Casino facilities team also donated gloves, face masks, shoe guards and body suits to Bronson Battle Creek Hospital.
Four Winds Casinos
Elder council members of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, operators of Michigan’s three Four Winds Casinos, have been busy making masks.
As of Wednesday, the group was closing in on 1,400 face masks created and distributed to protect community members, including Pokagon Health Service employees and patients.
The casinos also donated 9 pallets of food (totaling 7,450 pounds) to Feeding America, Cultivate Culinary and local communities.
The Penn National Gaming casino in Detroit has had its roof marquee displaying “#DETROITSTRONG” throughout the crisis.
Greektown Casino-Hotel also donated free rooms from two full floors of the hotel to Detroit police officers, firefighters and emergency medical professionals.
Gun Lake Casino
Gun Lake Casino team members bundled and loaded nearly 7 tons of food to local organizations such as Exodus Place, Dégagé Ministries, Feeding America West Michigan and Hand2Hand.
The Wayland facility’s operations team donated wipes, gloves and hand sanitizer pumps to Allegan County for law enforcement workers and others.
Island Resort and Casino
The Harris casino hosted a drive thru mobile pantry in the Island Resort and Casino parking lot, courtesy of Feeding America.
Leelanau Sands and Turtle Creek casinos
Grand Traverse Resort and Casinos donated more than 7,000 pounds of food through the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians food pantries to residents in need.
According to The Ticker, the band “also provided 1,000 lanyards for face masks to be used at Munson Healthcare in Roscommon and Grayling Community Health Centers, and 350 decks of cards to Grayling Elementary School for at-home STEM student learning kits.”
MGM Grand Detroit
MGM Grand Detroit donated more than 9,700 pounds of food to Forgotten Harvest and medical supplies to Beaumont Health Foundation and Detroit Medical Center hospitals.
The casino has also donated food to a drive where local chefs have made 21,000 meals for local residents, according to FOX2.
Shortly after closing, the Detroit casino donated more than 5,000 pounds of food on 23 pallets to Forgotten Harvest.
MotorCity Casino also donated 6,000 sanitizing wet wipes and 8,000 vinyl gloves to the city of Detroit, helping to keep Detroit Department of Transportation drivers safe.
Later, upon hearing about the need from nurses at Henry Ford Health System, the casino also donated 2,736 decks of playing cards to help COVID-19 patients pass the time while rehabilitating.
Odawa Casinos announced donations of about 1,000 pounds of food, with a value of about $10,000, to the Manna Food Project, the Petoskey Schools lunch program, Villa Assisted Living and Little Traverse Bay Band tribal elders.
The Petoskey location hosted a drive-thru food pantry on Fridays, as the Manna Food Project offered food assistance to hospitality and service workers. There was food distributed for 150 families.
Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort
The Mount Pleasant resort, the largest tribal casino in the state, is 25 miles west of Midland, which is experiencing devastating flooding after a dam failed this week.
The Morning Sun reported that the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe opened The Retreat at Soaring Eagle this week to help with displaced guests.
Soaring Eagle and Resort was also cited by the newspaper as an organization that brought blankets, pillows and sheets to flood victims at the West Midland Family Center in Shepherd.