Bans on smoking and poker are part of plan to reopen Detroit casinos

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has a plan for safely reopening Detroit casinos, and that means banning smoking and poker, and greatly restricting the number of people on the floor as COVID-19 precautions. Casinos are now waiting for the green light from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Bans on smoking, eliminating poker and restricting numbers of people on the floor are part of the plans to reopen Detroit's casinos, which have been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic.

The plan approved Monday includes:

  • A ban on smoking on casino floors
  • Limiting to 15%  the legal capacity
  • Limited entrance points with temperature check
  • No poker rooms
  • No self-service buffets, soda or coffee stations
  • Heightened cleaning protocols
  • Social distancing
  • No valet or coat service
  • No concerts, nightclubs, live events or shows

“In compiling these minimum guidelines, we considered CDC recommendations, Nevada Gaming Board guidelines and information from the National Indian Gaming Commission,” Richard S. Kalm, the board's executive director, said in a statement. "We required the casinos to propose reopening plans, and we consulted with the casino unions on the guidelines. We believe the guidelines will protect the public when it is safe to reopen the casinos.”

The MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino have been closed since March 16 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The three casinos’ year-to-date combined revenue of $299.2 million was down by 51.6 % through May compared with $617.9 million in combined revenue reported for the same period in 2019, Michigan Gaming Control Board said Monday. 

The revenue losses from the closures have impacted the casinos as well as the city and state, which collect hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue annually from the casinos' more than $1 billion in revenue.

"MotorCity Casino Hotel looks forward to reopening our casino complex as soon as authorized by Governor Whitmer," Bruce Dall, president of MotorCity Casino Hotel said in an email Monday.  "Since closing, we've consulted with health experts, and worked with City of Detroit leadership, state leadership, the Michigan Economic Recovery Council, as well as the Michigan Gaming Control Board in its efforts to develop reopening guidelines designed to protect the health and safety of our guests and employees."

Dall said that MotorCity Casino Hotel's guidelines include screening employees and customers including temperature checks, property-wide social-distancing signage and spacing in slots and tables, access to  masks and gloves, and 200 hand-sanitizing stations.

Last month, MGM Resorts International released a “Seven-Point Safety Plan” outlining the health and safety protocols it would implement in its properties, including MGM Grand Detroit. 

MGM Resort's plan includes screening, temperature checks and employee training, mandatory masks and personal protective equipment and physical distancing. The company's plan also addresses air quality and the operation of its heating ventilation and air conditioning systems.