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Amid surging COVID-19, Detroit casinos reinstall mask mandates

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

If you want to gamble, Detroit's three casinos would prefer you do it with your cash, not your health.

MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel and Greektown Casino have reinstalled mask mandates, effective at noon Tuesday, after the state last week issued a recommendation, but not a mandate, for everyone over the age of 2 to be masked up indoors amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.

MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino Hotel made announcements on their websites and via emails to customers. An operator at Greektown Casino said it, too, is bringing back the mask mandate, and a spokesperson confirmed the decision.

Detroit’s three casinos have reported a record-breaking $1.44 billion in combined revenue in 2018, up $20 million from the previous record of $1.42 billion in 2011.

"MGM Grand Detroit remains committed to the health and safety of our guests and employees," David Tsai, Midwest group president for MGM Resorts International, said in a letter to casino guests Monday night. "To prepare for your visit, please wear a face mask at all times unless you are actively eating or drinking.

"As we approach the holidays, we hope you stay well and wish you a healthy and happy holiday season. I look forward to welcoming you back safely on your next visit."

The three casinos are requiring the masks regardless of vaccination status.

All casinos provide masks to customers who don't have one.

"Face masks must be worn by customers, associates, and other visitors," MotorCity said in a statement.

The mask mandates for the casinos include hotel guests who are in public spaces. At MotorCity, masks will not be required for customers attending banquets or events at the Sound Board theater.

Detroit mayor Mike Duggan applauded the moves, which were voluntary.

"What private companies are doing makes great sense," he said Tuesday. "If I were running a casino, I'd do the same thing."

Detroit's three casinos shut down for several months, starting in March 2020, amid the early wave of COVID-19, missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits. They reopened in December, with strict health measures in place, including mask mandates and no more smoking indoors. Mask mandates were lifted in June, and most customers haven't worn them since. The smoking ban has remained.

The three downtown casinos reported $114.1 million in revenues for October, with the state taking in $9 million in taxes and the city of Detroit $13.8 million. In the same period, Michigan's online gaming and sports betting operators reported $134 million in gross receipts, with nearly $21 million in taxes going to the state and nearly $6 million going to the city of Detroit. Online gaming in Michigan was legalized in January.

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Christine Ferretti contributed

Twitter: @tonypaul1984