Two of Detroit’s three casinos announced Thursday that they would reopen Wednesday, Aug. 5, the earliest date allowed by an executive order signed earlier in the week by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The third, MGM Grand Detroit, will arrive fashionably late to next week’s reopening party.
Late Thursday afternoon, MGM announced that at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7, the casino would be open to the public for the first time since March 16, when Whitmer ordered all of Detroit’s casinos closed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, to prevent further spread of the virus.
“We are excited to reopen our doors and welcome back our guests and team members,” said David Tsai, president of MGM Resorts’ Midwest group. “These have been difficult and challenging times … I’m immensely proud of what our team has accomplished in these last four months to create a safer environment for our guests and employees, while still providing the premier gaming and entertainment experience MGM Grand Detroit is known for.”
Detroit’s casinos had to wait longer to reboot than Michigan’s tribal casinos, which are not under state jurisdiction and began reopening in late May. The Detroit reopening will also come more than a month after casinos in neighboring states Indiana and Ohio reopened, and the city’s casino operators have chafed at Whitmer’s abundance of caution.
“Casinos in Ohio and Indiana are open,” Tsai told Crain’s Detroit Business in late June. “We have Detroit residents going to those casinos, crossing state lines. Those casinos don’t have the level of protocols that we will have when we reopen.”
15% capacity, sportsbook open, no poker upon reopening
MGM’s announcement Thursday gave a picture of how the casino would operate safely once guests return next Friday. Slots, table games, and the BetMGM Sportsbook will be available, with a number of slot machines disabled to encourage social distancing and plexiglass barriers installed at many table games. The MGM’s hotel and spa will wait for a later date to reopen, and valet service will remain suspended in favor of free self-parking.
Additional public health protocols include mandatory mask-usage for all guests and employees, temperature checks for workers and customers upon entry, a no-indoor smoking policy, and a newly installed hand-washing station on the casino floor.
Per Whitmer’s order, MGM Grand Detroit — along with MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino — will operate at 15% capacity, which limits the number of guests the MGM can serve to about 1,400 people at any given time. The 15% limit is lower than any similar restriction in the country, Tsai told Crain’s.
In June, Tsai said that the casino, which laid off or furloughed more than 2,600 of its 2,800-person workforce during the shutdown and expects to hire some of those workers back, would be able to operate profitably under the state’s safety guidelines.
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