Michigan Casinos Prepare to Open at 100% Capacity by July

The commercial casinos in Detroit, Michigan will have to wait a little bit longer before offering services at 100% capacity. Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced this week that indoor capacity restrictions will be lifted by the first of July. Outdoor bans will be gone by June 1. Right now, the casinos in the capital city are operating at a low 30%. This applies to MotorCity Casino, Greektown Casino, and MGM Grand Detroit.

Eventually Reaching 100%

For over a year now, the casinos in Detroit have been struggling. Michigan was hit particularly hard by the virus, with many residents refusing to wear masks or follow any state mandates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Right now, the casinos still have mask restrictions in place. This decision stands not long after the Michigan Gaming Control Board issued an order where vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear a mask. It could be that the casinos are keeping the masks in place due to so many people in the state being unwilling to wear a mask and the possibility that an infected person would visit and say they were vaccinated.

Tribal casinos have chosen differently. Many have decided to lift the mask restriction while some others allow patrons to take their masks off if they are sitting at a slot machine. Casinos operated by the Ojibwa in Marquette and Baraga have asked patrons to continue wearing masks but allow them to be removed at the slot machines.

Will the Industry Get Back to Normal?

For more than a year now, the gambling industry in Michigan has struggled. The casinos in Detroit shut down just five days after launching sports betting services. So that industry was instantly hindered. Then sports teams stopped their seasons, so there went even more potential for the new industry.

The casinos were closed for almost five months before the three reopened and then they closed again in November due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. Originally, when the casinos opened back up, they were offering services at just 15% capacity. Officials eventually allowed the 30% total, but that is still a far cry from 100%.

For 2020, the Detroit market earned $620.4 million. This seems like a lot, it was a huge hit to the casinos. In the United States, the market went from Number 6 in the nation to the Number 10 spot. This was a big drop in such a short amount of time and it was all due to the closings and restrictions.

But is now the time for recovery? Will things finally start to get back to normal by July when the casinos can operate at 100%? It is unclear as to what will happen. People may not be willing to travel to Michigan to visit the casinos. During the summer months, people who travel may be more apt to choose an outdoor destination than one that is inside.

Only time will tell how the industry will recover. For the three casinos in Detroit, they are hopeful that the process will happen sooner rather than later.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.