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Detroit Casinos Can Reopen Wednesday At Heavily Reduced Capacity

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Issued An Executive Order That Will Allow The State's Three Commercial Casinos In Detroit To Operate At 15% Capacity

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Michigan’s three commercial casinos, all located in Detroit, are eligible to reopen on Wednesday. MotorCity and Greektown Casinos have announced their intention to reopen Wednesday, while MGM Grand Detroit will open its doors Friday, August 7.

After a nearly five-month shutdown, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order last week that will allow the state’s brick-and-mortar gambling operations to reopen for business, according to a Detroit Free Press report. Casinos will be operational but will have several restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under the order, casinos will be forced operate at 15 percent of total capacity. When Nevada reopened its casinos, Gov. Steve Sisolak restricted operating capacity to 50 percent. Gov. Phil Murphy restricted Atlantic City casinos to 25 percent when he allowed gambling to resume last month. Whitmer’s capacity restriction is the most stringent in the country.

Along with the limited capacity, casinos must require guests to wear a face covering while inside and will be forced to conduct a screening protocol before entry. The protocol will include temperature checks to ensure that nobody with flu-like symptoms will be allowed inside. Similar restrictions have been implemented at casinos nationwide.

At the outset of the reopening process, poker will not be an option for gamblers. The same measures were taken in Massachusetts and many casinos in Las Vegas have yet to reopen its poker rooms.

Some gambling analysts are worried that the extreme capacity limitations will have a negative effect on tax revenue that the city of Detroit heavily relies on.

“Unless everyone who comes in the door plays and loses five or six times more than they normally would, it’s nearly impossible to generate similar revenue,” Alex Calderone, managing director of Calderone Advisory Group, told the Free Press.

The American Gaming Association released a report Tuesday, just ahead of the reopening, that showed how integral the rebound of the gaming industry will be to Michigan’s economy.

According to the report, the state’s 27 casinos, most of which are tribal-owned, generate $6.3 billion in economic activity, resulting in $1.3 billion in tax revenue for the state. The industry supports $2.1 billion in wages and nearly 38,000 jobs. The shutdown cost local governments $114.1 million in gaming tax revenue alone, more than one-third of which is used to fund the state’s education program.

Tribal casinos do not have to abide by state law and have been steadily reopening since as early as the end of May. According to the AGA’s casino tracker, the only three casinos in the state that are still shuttered are three commercial casinos in Detroit.