No date has been set for Detroit’s three commercial casinos to reopen, but they now have a set of official health and safety protocols for when they finally do welcome back guests. On Monday, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) issued its minimum guidelines that MotorCity, MGM Grand, and Greektown casinos must follow in order to be permitted to reopen, whenever that may be.
Detroit has been one of the hardest-hit cities in the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wayne County, where the city is located, has had 21,533 confirmed virus cases and 2,651 confirmed deaths.
More than half of the casinos in the United States have reopened, all implementing some sort of safety measures. The ones required by the MGCB for the Detroit casinos appear to be stricter than most. Of particular note, casinos may only accept patrons up to 15% of their maximum capacity. Most casinos are at 50% capacity; Detroit venues will be taking things very slowly.
Also very interesting: smoking has been banned on the casino floor, something that will likely elicit strong reactions both ways.
Entry points to casinos are to be limited so that visitor flow can be controlled and all people entering the premises will have their temperature checked. And unlike Nevada casinos, which were allowed to open last Thursday, all guests are required to wear face masks at all times, unless they are eating or drinking.
Videos from Las Vegas casinos during their initial reopening weekend showed the vast majority of guests going without protective face coverings. All employees, however, were wearing them.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, Detroit poker rooms will not be permitted to start up again even when the casinos reopen. The reasoning is fairly obvious: poker rooms are perhaps the most difficult area of the casino to keep clean. Some poker rooms around the U.S. have reopened with limited numbers of players per table, but most have not.
On the gaming floor, casinos will be required to “promote social distancing” in the slots area by removing chairs from certain slot machines, turning some machines off, or installing plexiglass barriers between machines. Naturally, the machines must be cleaned frequently.
Only three players will be permitted per general table game like blackjack, four players can be at roulette and baccarat tables, and six people can play at each craps table. Dealers must wear face protection.
Concluding the seven page safety regulation document, the MGCB said:
The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt the casino industry an unexpected and unprecedented blow over the last few months. The Board is committed to assisting each casino Licensee to reopen in a safe and efficient manner consistent with CDC and Michigan guidelines. We fully anticipate that we will work together to rebuild this industry to again be a leading economic engine for Michigan and to restore the first-rate entertainment facilities each of our Licensees have developed.
There are 26 casinos in Michigan. Because the other 23 are tribal casinos, they do not have to abide by any sort of shutdown order by the governor. That said, they all did close their facilities for most of the lockdown period, which was lifted June 1. Some tribal gaming properties have opened.