Michigan Casinos Can Reopen Monday as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

  • Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the easing of certain COVID-19 restrictions
  • Casinos had to close on November 15 because of a surge in coronavirus cases
  • MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit reopen Wednesday; no date yet for Greektown Casino
  • Measures such as the indoor dining ban remain effective until January 15
  • The state's population should have access to the coronavirus vaccine in spring
  • Michigan's commercial casinos reopened in August following initial March closures
Masked person turning a store sign to indicate that it is open
Michigan’s commercial casinos can reopen on December 21 following the easing of a number of COVID-19 restrictions. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Business to resume safely

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on Friday that certain COVID-19 pandemic restrictions will ease starting December 21, which will see the reopening of the state’s three commercial casinos.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is lifting a few of the restrictions that came into effect on November 15 as virus cases rose in the region. As part of the reopening conditions, casinos, arcades, and bingo halls can have a total capacity of 100 people. Drink and food service remains prohibited. Visitors must continue to abide by strict social distancing rules and the mandatory wearing of face masks.

a total capacity of 100 people

The MotorCity Casino has announced its plans to reopen its doors on December 23. In a statement, the property outlined how it has invested a lot of time and effort to do so safely. Significant safety protocols will still be in place, such as temperature checks on all visitors and workers upon entry. All returning staff will also undergo COVID-19 tests.

The MGM Grand Detroit also intends to resume business on December 23, while the Greektown Casino has yet to confirm a reopening date. An MGM Grand spokesperson said on Sunday that its Detroit casino can host up to 100 people in “each space” once it reopens. 

COVID-19 measures lifted, others remain

The governor’s announcement gave other forms of entertainment, such as bowling alleys and movie theaters, the go-ahead to reopen. Additionally, in-person learning can now resume in high schools and universities. However, other restrictions remain in place, including the ban on indoor dining. Workplaces where employees can still work from home also cannot reopen. Such restrictions will apply until January 15, 2021. 

population in Michigan to have access to the vaccine in spring

Despite a steady decline in coronavirus infections in the past few weeks, there are still thousands of new cases daily. The rollout of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has started in the state. The plan is for the general population in Michigan to have access to the vaccine in spring 2021.

A tough year for casinos

Casinos in the state originally had to close for three weeks with the implementation of restrictions on November 15. A 12-day extension followed on closure orders until December 20. While tribal casinos in the state had no obligation to pause gambling activity, some still shut their doors temporarily. 

Michigan’s commercial casinos were among the last in the nation to restart their operations after the initial round of pandemic closures back in March. The three casinos in Detroit could only reopen from August 5 at 15% capacity. 

Gambling revenue for the year is significantly down, costing the city of Detroit millions in lost tax revenue. In November, the three Detroit casinos forked out $5.7m in gaming taxes and development agreement payments, compared to $19.7m in November 2019.

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