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Detroit Casino Strike Nears One Month As Workers Call For Digital Boycott

Workers are calling for a boycott of mobile platforms like FanDuel and ESPN BET




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Workers at three Detroit casinos have been on strike for nearly a month, with Friday officially marking one month since the work stoppage began

Some 3,500 brick-and-mortar casino employees began striking after unsuccessfully requesting improved wages and healthcare. Employees have encouraged customers to avoid visiting the three casinos until they’re given what they deem to be a fair contract. 

Now, the Detroit Casino Council – a group of five unions representing most of Detroit’s casino workers – is asking customers to not only boycott the city’s retail facilities, but to also refrain from using the sports betting apps and mobile casinos associated with them. 

Mobile betting boycott

The platforms the council is asking customers to boycott are BetMGM (MGM Grand Detroit) and FanDuel (MotorCity Casino), as well as ESPN BET and Hollywood iCasino (Hollywood Casino at Greektown). ESPN BET went live in Michigan yesterday, replacing Barstool Sportsbook. 

“PENN Entertainment is sinking $1.5 billion just for the rights to use the ESPN brand for its online sports betting platform, but they won’t invest in paying a fair wage at their Michigan casino, where workers are on strike,” D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE International Union, said in a statement. “The casino operators could end the strike today if they would agree to giving workers the pay, benefits, and protections they deserve. The Detroit Casino Council is calling on sports fans to not use ESPN BET and other apps associated with the operators of the three struck casinos until the strike is over. ESPN BET is a loser for Michigan if PENN won’t invest in our communities.”

Other online wagering apps — including Caesars Palace Online Casino, Caesars Sportsbook, and DraftKings — are not part of the council’s boycott suggestion. Meanwhile, digital employees for MGM, FanDuel, and PENN Entertainment aren’t on strike. 

“Online sports betting and online casino platforms like FanDuel, ESPN BET, and BetMGM are critical sources of revenue for the companies that operate Detroit’s three casinos,” Nia Winston, president of UNITE HERE Local 24, said in a statement. “Workers have been outside the physical locations 24/7 since going out on strike three weeks ago to win a fair contract. Now, they’re calling on the public not to cross their virtual picket line either, and to boycott these apps until the strike is settled.”

Recently released revenue figures from October show that Detroit’s casinos are suffering as a result of the strike. October’s casino revenue numbers resulted in the lowest non-pandemic monthly revenue total since 2001. 

Photo: Getty Images