Detroit casinos would reopen with ban on smoking, food buffets

Detroit casinos would reopen with ban on smoking, food buffets


Future visitors to the three Detroit casinos will be required to wear face masks, submit to temperature checks and be prohibited from smoking, playing poker or eating at the buffet, according to reopening guidelines approved Monday by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

The guidelines, which also limit the casinos to 15% of their maximum occupancy capacity, would be in effect once Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifts her executive order that closed the casinos March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitmer has yet to announce a reopening date for the Detroit casinos. Some tribal casinos within Michigan have already reopened.

“In compiling these minimum guidelines, we considered CDC recommendations, Nevada Gaming Board guidelines and information from the National Indian Gaming Commission,” gaming board Executive Director Richard Kalm said. “We required the casinos to propose reopening plans, and we consulted with the casino unions on the guidelines.”

More: Poll: Michiganders fear second wave of coronavirus, support Gov. Whitmer’s orders

More: Michigan barbershops, hair salons can reopen statewide June 15

The initial reopening guidelines for MGM Grand, MotorCity and Greektown casinos include:

  • Limit of 15% legal capacity at each casino
  • Temperature checks at entrances (Those registering 100.4 degrees or higher are turned away)
  • Everyone wears masks covering nose and mouth
  • 6-foot social distancing guidelines in effect
  • No smoking or vaping on casino floors
  • No poker rooms
  • No self-serve buffets
  • No valet service
  • No coat check

The casinos would be permitted to allow smoking in designated outdoor areas, but not anywhere inside.

“if we are attempting to limit the spread of COVID-19 exposure, we should probably limit the smoking,” Kalm said in a phone interview.

The 15% capacity restriction was suggested by the casinos, Kalm said, and would mean roughly 1,400 to 1,500 patrons per property at one time.

“If they are at capacity, they will turn people away at the parking lot,” he said.

The casinos are allowed to reopen with tighter rules than the required minimums, but not looser ones.

Total gambling revenues for the three casinos was $299.2 million through May, less than half the revenues for the same five months in 2019, according to the gaming control board. The casinos submitted $35.6 million in wagering taxes and other fees to the city of Detroit, or nearly $38 million less than a year ago.

Casino taxes are the City of Detroit’s third largest revenue source and their collapse has put a strain on the city’s budget.

Contact JC Reindl:313-222-6631 or Follow him on Twitter@jcreindl. Read more on business and sign up for our business newsletter.

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