Casinos in Michigan have been allowed to re-open as State Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Wednesday to permit the gaming properties to resume operations.
The commercial land-based gaming facilities have been closed since mid-March, when the governor issued an executive order to close all non-essential business, in line with the ongoing federal and state effort to curb the spread of the virus infection.
Detroit Casinos Can Resume Operations
As per the latest order, the three state casinos, MGM Grand, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino, all located in Detroit, can resume operations effective August 5. Tribal casinos are regulated by tribal gaming commissions and federal law and are not obliged to comply with state orders, and in late May, 4 of the state’s 12 federally recognized tribes announced plans to re-open their gaming properties.
“Casinos have been operating safely across most of the country and in tribal areas in Michigan and should be able to do so in the Detroit region as well.”State Governor Gretchen Whitmer
The commercial casinos will have to operate with a maximum of 15% of their capacity, as well as implement a series of risk mitigating measures and procedures. They will have to provide disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, space gaming machines 6 feet apart or install plexiglass barriers between the machines, as well as clean and disinfect regularly all high-touch areas in the casino.
Customers and employees will have to wear face coverings, with everyone going through a health screening and temperature check at the casino entry. Face covering exceptions will be allowed only when eating and drinking, while smoking in the casinos is banned. Besides smoking, concerts, live events, night clubs, valet and coat check services are also banned, together with the provision of self-serve buffets for customers.
On top of all measures listed in the executive order, MotorCity Casino will shut down every other slot machine and remove seats at table games as per its own safety protocol, MotorCity President Bruce Dall pointed out, expressing his relief at the decision to let the business restart.
“This decision allows us to bring back many employees, providing critical employment and health benefits. We look forward to safely welcoming our staff and guests back to MotorCity Casino.”Bruce Dall, President, MotorCity Casino Hotel
MotorCity’s revenue through the end of June fell 41%, as casino revenue in the state declined 59.3%, to $299.2 million, from the record $735.4 million posted in H1 2019. MGM Grand and Greektown Casino generated 40% and 41% less year-on-year, respectively, contributing to the significantly lower yields in wagering taxes for the state.
In H1 2019 casinos brought $87.5 million in state revenue, while now that figure is more than halved, to $35.6 million. According to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, the closure of the three city casinos is costing the city around $600,000 in revenue per day.