Detroit's casinos stay open with additional safety measures, like washing chips, closing buffets

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city's casinos remain open around the clock but with several changes in the wake of the coronvirus outbreak that forced Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to ban all gatherings of 250 or more people.

MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown and MotorCity have taken numerous safety precautions, including several to increase social distance. Among them have been the additions of temporary partitions throughout properties, the disabling of some slot machines to create more space, and eliminating some seats for table games.

Detroit casinos remain open but are taking precautions in light of the coronavirus.

"We are following all recommended guidelines with the goal of keeping our guests safe, while also continuing to play our part in the more than $400-million contributed to the state economy by the gaming industry," MotorCity said in a statement on its website.

"We can continue to provide this economic stability as well as meet the needs of our guests."

Detroit's three casinos draw millions of customers a year, through their array of slot machines — each has thousands on the floor — and table games.

All three casinos earlier this week laid out several steps toward increased cleaning, including the addition of hand-sanitizing stations, and regular wiping down of slot machines. They continue to update their lists.

MotorCity, owned by Marian Ilitch, recently unveiled additional steps, including the regular washing of casino chips. Also, all upcoming shows at its Sound Board theater have been cancelled or re-scheduled including Brian McKnight (March 19) and Knockouts XVIII (March 20); its Butler Lounge, Radio Bar, Iridescence and Lobby Bar, D. Tour Spa, Assembly Line Buffet and bars at its FanDuel Sportsbook have been closed; and cocktail cart service has been eliminated.

At MGM Grand Detroit, increased cleaning efforts are well under way, among other measures. It has closed its self-service food station in the poker room, with individually wrapped sandwiches available at the desk. MGM Grand Detroit also cancelled a $20,000 slot tournament scheduled for next week, and closed its buffet.

“MGM Grand Detroit is working with the state officials, particularly the Michigan Gaming Control Board, to ensure that our operations satisfy the Governor’s Executive Order," MGM Grand Detroit said in a statement.

MGM Resorts had two employees test positive for coronavirus in Las Vegas this week.

Over at Greektown, owned by Penn National Gaming, numerous cleaning measures have been increased, including of slot machines as well as table-game chips. It says it's using "hospital-grade disinfectants, focusing on high-touch points."

The state's other 22 casinos remain open. They are tribal, and not subject to Whitmer's executive order, which called for the closing of all schools K-12, and affected many places of worship.

In Ohio, where the governor restricted events of 100 or more, the casinos were told to comply, and several have decided to shut down.

Detroit's three casinos brought in more than $1.4 billion in revenues in 2019, leading hundreds of millions in taxes to the state and city of Detroit.

Earlier this week, the three casinos opened their sportsbooks, with live sports betting becoming officially legal at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Now, there's almost nothing to bet on, with sweeping cancellations across the sports world for the foreseeable future. The sportsbooks can't take action on international sporting events.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984