MGM Grand Detroit to Reopen Poker Room for First Time in Ten Months

  • Detroit poker rooms closed mid-March because of the pandemic and haven't reopened since
  • Cash games will be taking place at the MGM Grand Detroit, but no tournaments yet
  • Poker-playing facilities got the go-ahead to reopen from the Michigan Gaming Control Board
  • Greektown Casino will resume poker activity in a few weeks, no indication from MotorCity Casino
  • COVID-19 closures saw Detroit's three commercial casinos post a 56% YoY revenue drop in 2020
female croupier shuffling cards on poker table with chips
MGM Grand Detroit is reopening its poker room on Friday after getting the green light from Michigan’s gaming regulators. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Safety measures in place

MGM Grand Detroit is set to reopen its poker room at noon on January 15 after it remained shuttered since March because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Michigan casino property posted a tweet on Wednesday about its resumption plans:

The poker room will operate around the clock, but the food and beverages facility will remain closed. This is in line with the state’s current pandemic measures, which prohibit the public from consuming food or drink at indoor establishments. Patrons must wear masks at all times, while casino staff will regularly sanitize the facility’s plexiglass dividers, poker chips, and cards. 

The MGM Grand Detroit poker room will only be offering cash games, with no tournaments taking place for the moment. 

Regulatory green light

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has given all three casinos operating in Detroit the green light to reopen their poker rooms. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the premises will be subject to certain restrictions from the authorities and their respective operators. 

only five poker tables available at any one time

MGM Grand Detroit will have only five poker tables available at any one time, and these will be spaced out. Tables will only be able to host eight players at once, rather than the maximum of nine. All players will have plexiglass barriers separating them from the other participants. 

Speaking about the protection measures, the property’s poker operations manager Keith Frankel wrote in an email: “We’re keeping the health and safety of our guests and employees at the forefront of all we do.”

A Greektown Casino representative told The Detroit News that the property will resume its poker room operation in the coming weeks. The MotorCity Casino has not given any indication as to when it plans to restart its poker games.

A tough time for poker

Casinos in Detroit originally shut down in mid-March of 2020 at the onset of the pandemic outbreak in the US. While the properties reopened in August for a time, poker rooms were not able to restart their operations. The same thing happened when casinos reopened in December after another bout of closures. 

The MotorCity Casino had informed players later in September that its poker room would be reopening, with the Greektown Casino making a similar announcement. However, the Michigan Gaming Control Board had not given the go-ahead for the two casino’s safety plans at the time. Eventually, the casinos did not proceed with their reopenings.

Poker players in the state have therefore been unable to play at Detroit’s three commercial casinos for ten months. Commercial casinos in the state struggled in 2020 as a whole because of the pandemic closures. The three casinos generated revenue of $639m in 2020, a year-on-year drop of 56%. 

Online poker is set to go live in Michigan over the coming weeks with the imminent launch of legal online casino and sportsbook markets.