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In age of COVID-19, change is new thing as Detroit casinos reopen

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

As Detroit’s three casinos prepare to open to the public this week, guests will see numerous changes when they walk through the doors.

Among those changes in the age of COVID-19 at MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel and Greektown Casino-Hotel are temperature checks, fewer guests on the casino floor and sanitation stations.

“Together with the other two Detroit casinos we felt like we wanted to take a conservative approach in terms of the protocol that we’re agreeing to,” said David Tsai, president and COO of MGM Grand Detroit. “We want the opportunity to demonstrate that you can open a business and do it safely. We will be enforcing these protocols and enforcing compliance.” 

“I think that one of the things that’s interesting is with casinos, we are in a position to probably enforce a lot of these regulations more than other industries because we are a highly-regulated business,” Tsai continued. “We’re used to enforcing strict rules.”

Casino officials said they have been preparing for weeks to reopen following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order in March that casinos close to flatten the infection curve of coronavirus by limiting person-to-person contact.

“We have invested considerable time and effort to prepare MotorCity Casino Hotel for an opening with our highest priority being the health and safety of our employees and guests,” said Bruce Dall, president of MotorCity Casino Hotel.

To maintain social distancing , about half of Greektown Casino's 2,600 slot machines will be available to use at opening.

One of the most noticeable changes will be a limit to 15% occupancy at each of the casinos. It’s a figure that casino executives proposed to the state as part of the reopening strategy, said John Drake, Greektown Casino-Hotel vice president and general manager.

“It’s certainly something that we’re comfortable with from an opening standpoint and certainly demonstrating that we know we have great protocols hopefully we can move beyond that in the not too distance future,” he said.

Here’s are some of the changes at each of the casinos:

MotorCity Casino Hotel

  • Reopens to the public at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
  • Masks are required for customers and will be provided if needed. Masks and/or face shields are required for associates.
  • Temperature checks and screening questions for associates and customers.
  • Every other slot machine will be shut down and seating removed from table games.
  • Social distance and traffic flow signs and markers have been  posted.
  • Smoking is not allowed inside the casino. It is permitted in the outdoor smoking area.
  • Cash is not accepted as payment for hotel rooms. Guests must pay with an authorized credit card.

Greektown Casino-Hotel

  • Reopens to the public at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Team members, guests and vendors will be required to wear masks. Temperature will be taken upon entry.
  • Slots and tables will be restricted to at least every other gaming position.
  • The hotel, fitness center, poker, self-service beverage stations and valet will remain closed.
  • Banquet services will remain suspended.
  • Dining options will be limited to Prism and Stack'd.
  • No large drawings, tournaments, or special events.
  • Casino will be non-smoking. Two areas will be designated for smokers outside.
  • Plexiglass at cashier cages, table games and promotion centers.

MGM Grand Detroit

  • Reopens to the public at 10 a.m. Friday.
  • Face masks are required to be worn by all employees and guests
  • Smoking will not be permitted on the casino floor. An outdoor smoking area has been created near casino valet. 
  • Table games and slot machines have been configured to allow for appropriate physical distancing between players.
  • The Poker Room will remain closed and Pai-Gow Poker will be unavailable.
  • Restaurants and bars will have limited hours and reduced seating.
  • The hotel is closed, but accepting reservations for stays beginning Sept. 1, 2020.
  • IMMERSE spa and MGM & Co. retail shop are temporarily closed until further notice.
  • Valet parking will be closed. Building entry will be available only through the self-park garage.