Detroit Casinos to Reopen With New Safety Requirements, Capacity Restrictions

Detroit’s casinos are set to reopen on Wednesday, 5, after nearly five months of remaining closed due to Covid-19 and related stay-at-home orders. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order will allow Detroit’s three properties–Motor City, MGM Grand Detroit, and Greektown–to reopen at 15% capacity. 

In addition to the truncated capacity, Whitmer is requiring added measures to keep casino patrons and employees safe. Entry screenings, including temperature checks, will be required for casino staff and players. Masks are also required; patrons may only remove them while eating, drinking, or having their ID checked. 

Revenue Impact

Detroit’s casinos recently suffered a nearly 60% revenue drop due to the closures that began in March. Michigan’s online casino and sports betting regulations have been progressing slowly, leaving a big gap in the market while the state’s largest city closed down its casinos. 

Compare Detroit to major casino markets, and the reopenings offer only a slim glimmer of hope for economic recovery. Las Vegas originally reopened most casino properties at 50% capacity while Atlantic City only allowed 25%. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, some analysts believe the city’s 15% limitation will do little to stem the ongoing revenue loss while others say that casinos rarely operate at 100% anyway, making this move a net positive. For now, casinos are gearing up for Wednesday by having staff members return to prepare for a wave of customers on the heels of months of pent-up demand. 

In-State Competition

While Detroit casinos remained closed, Michigan’s tribal properties began to reopen. Free from state legislative restrictions, a few of Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos kickstarted reopening efforts as soon as mid-May, bringing much-needed revenue. The past weeks have brought more tribal properties back into the fray, making Michigan a uniquely competitive state for casino gaming during Covid-19 containment efforts. 

A Step Back For Northern Michigan

Meanwhile, Whitmer has re-tightened some restrictions for Northern Michigan in response to increased cases in the region. Gatherings are now limited to 10 people, a significant cut from the previous limit of 50. And now, nightclubs and other indoor alcohol sales in venues that primarily serve drinks, are not allowed to sell liquor indoors. These changes take effect on Friday, 7. 

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based freelance writer in the gambling, media, and entertainment space. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier.