Detroit Casinos Will Open Aug. 5 Under Whitmer’s Order

Posted on July 29, 2020 - Last Updated on July 30, 2020

Detroit’s three commercial casinos are about to get the go-ahead to re-open.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Wednesday to allow for the reopening on Aug. 5.

Greektown Casino-Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino have been closed since March 16 because of the pandemic.

Whitmer has discussed opening the gambling halls by the Fourth of July, but Michigan COVID-19 numbers worsened prior to that.

“As we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Michiganders cannot afford to drop our guard,” Whitmer said in a news release, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“After seeing a resurgence in cases connected to social gatherings across the state, we must further limit gatherings for the health of our community and economy. By taking these strong actions, we will be better positioned to get our children back into classrooms and avoid a potentially devastating second wave.”

Detroit casinos will face restrictions

Whitmer will allow 15% capacity at the Detroit casinos. That’s the same amount announced earlier by the Michigan Gaming Control Board as part of its reopening guidelines. It is a significantly smaller capacity than other states, which are setting limits in the 25%-50% range.

Other restrictions as part of those guidelines included:

  • Limited entrance points with temperature checks.
  • ban on smoking on the casino floors.
  • No poker rooms.
  • Heightened cleaning protocols.
  • Social distancing requirements.

Two of Detroit’s casinos have already started accepting hotel reservations beginning on Aug. 1.

All three casinos were forced to close five days after the opening of sports betting across the state on March 11. Later that night, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, and the sports world shut down.

Michigan tribal casinos reopened weeks ago

Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos also closed but all but one has since reopened.

That one, Kings Club Casino, has a sister casino about two miles away in Brimley.

Whitmer’s executive order also will tighten restrictions in northern Michigan. There, group sizes and indoor bars will face restrictions.

Detroit missing big-time revenue each day

A key economic engine for Detroit, the casinos make up about 15-20% of the city’s budget. Their closures were reportedly costing the city nearly $600,000 per day.

Through June, Detroit casino revenue was down nearly 60% year over year.

This week, Michigan reported an average of about 600 new coronavirus cases per day after a mid-June drop. Daily death counts are far below those of March and April when the virus hit the Detroit area hard.

Since the Detroit casinos closed, three tribal casinos across the state have launched retail sportsbooks.

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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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