Detroit casinos prepare to reopen after shutdown

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit casinos plan to reopen next week after being shut down for more than a month as the state battled an uptick in coronavirus cases.

MotorCity Casino Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casino will reopen Wednesday, according to officials venues. 

Casinos have been hit hard during the pandemic, costing the city of Detroit millions in tax revenue. Table games and slots revenue at the three Detroit casinos declined 55% compared with results from January through November 2019, according the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

MotorCity Casino will reopen Wedneday, venue officials said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state officials lifted restrictions for casinos to reopen with a limited capacity starting Monday following a shutdown that began in mid-November.  Bowling centers and movie theaters also are permitted to reopen. All three are allowed to operate with total capacity capped at 100, food and drink concessions closed and social distancing requirements in place, according to a Friday news release by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The state's order lasts until Jan. 15.

An MGM Grand spokeswoman, however, said Sunday the casino is allowed to have 100 people in "each space." 

MotorCity Casino said its occupancy is 20 people per 1,000 square feet and no more than 100 in a distinct space. 

The state's epidemic order apart from the news release said: "For all venues, no more than 100 persons may be gathered within any distinct space within the venue, except at stadiums and arenas hosting sporting events as provided in section 6, in which case up to 250 persons may be gathered."

The order also says: "occupancy is limited to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet, including within any distinct space within the venue."

MGM Grand Detroit will reopen at 5 p.m. Wednesday. More than 1,500 slots and video poker machines will be immediately available, along with the BetMGM Sportsbook. Table games will open at 8 a.m. Saturday.

"Our team is prepared to welcome back just as many guests on our casino floor as we had prior to our closing in November, socially distanced across our 150,000+ sq. ft. casino floor," said David Tsai, president of Midwest Group, MGM Resorts International, in a statement.

MotorCity Casino Hotel will open at 1 p.m. Wednesday.  Returning employees will be COVID-19 tested.

MotorCity Casino will continue to enforce mandatory mask-wearing as well as social distancing by shutting down slot machines, removing seating at table games and using plexiglass barriers. All customers and staff will have their temperatures checked. Smoking is not allowed. 

Greektown will reopen at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Greektown Casino tweeted Sunday to "check back for an official date" of reopening.

The three Detroit casinos reported $50.4 million in monthly aggregate revenue last month while operating at 15% capacity due to COVID-19 health concerns, MIchigan Gaming Control Board. The reported revenue represented a 61.3% drop from November 2019.

The city's casinos generate about $600,000 in tax revenues for the city per day. 

The three Detroit casinos paid $5.7 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the city in November. In comparison, the casinos paid $19.7 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the city during November 2019.

Twitter: @bykaleahall