On Monday, September 15, the Michigan’s Department of Health announced new shutdowns for a range of properties, including the state’s 26 casinos.
Michigan Announces New Shutdowns for State Casinos
The state of Michigan is on the horns of another dilemma, faced with climbing cases of COVID-19 infections. Amid the uncertainty about the pandemic, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has decided to suspend operation at the state’s casinos, and other businesses, risking another economic slump.
The decision was announced on November 15 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) with an executive order signed by the governor.
As a result, all gatherings have been restricted across a number of facilities, including the state’s 26 casinos. Gaming venues have until November 18 12:01 am to comply with the order and will have to remain closed until at least December 8.
The order is targeting a range of other businesses as well, including bingo halls and arcades, but also non-gambling venues, including water parks and skating rinks. Theatres and stadiums will also suspend operations until at least mid-December. Lack of gate receipts is already hurting sports teams who expect to lose big due to lack of fan-generated revenue.
Responding to the Pandemic with Strict Measures
Michigan and Gov. Whitmer may feel like closing casinos could be the state’s best chance to rein in the pandemic although a similar debate has been going across the Atlantic. In the United Kingdom, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has enacted region-by-region shutdowns of gaming venues to the vehement protest of industry bodies, asking the government not to shutter casinos.
Yet, both the Health Department and the governor see a reason to discontinue operations at gaming venues. Michigan has been posting worrying numbers with 289,000 total cases and 8,437 deaths since the epidemic began. The last several days saw a rapid increase in those numbers. Commenting on these developments, Whitmer urged for businesses and residents to turn to health authorities for guidance and stick with recommendations.
MDHHS director Robert Gordon explained that indoor gatherings posted the greatest risk and limiting any such events would be of the highest priority for the state and health officials. Casinos have had it rough, with their doors first shutting back in mid-March and reopening earlier in August.
Despite the worrying trends, MotorCity Detroit decided to invest in expansion, even though rumors about a pending shutdown had been circulating already. Despite the shutdowns, Michigan’s casinos only reported an 18.9% drop year-over-year in October, not a bad overall result, given the reduced capacity the property was running at. Casinos expressed readiness to comply with all health measures in October, and they should do so once again.
Michigan is also trying to move forth with an interstate online poker bill that would allow it to join a shared liquidity pool with a number of other states, including Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and possibly Pennsylvania.