Gov. Whitmer: Golf And Boating Back, But Michigan Casinos Still Dark

Written By Matt Schoch on April 24, 2020
Michigan casinos reopening

Golfers and boaters can rejoice.

But as expected, casinos are still in the dark for masked Michiganders.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the stay-at-home order through May 15 for Michigan residents, as the COVID-19 pandemic has softened on the hard-hit state.

Whitmer made the announcement Friday morning that her April 30 order was extended a couple of weeks. However, she lightened the load of some of the restrictions but not for Michigan casinos.

Golfers, boaters can get back to driving

Though Michigan provided another April of crummy weather, among the most vocal dissenters in Whitmer’s restrictive measures were golfers and boaters.

Mike Sullivan, the producer for Detroit sports radio king Mike Valenti of 97.1 The Ticket, tweeted about not being able to golf so many times you’d think local golf pros were holding a three-wood over his head.

Given the state’s coronavirus death rate, which reached near 3,000 this week, those complaints were tone-deaf, at best.

But maybe they worked.

Golf courses open for business

A representative at Island Resort & Casino said Friday morning, the golf courses on the Harris property in the Upper Peninsula are scheduled to open May 8 and reservations are available.

However, since the hotel is not open, he expected mostly locals to take advantage of the more lax restrictions.

The order said golfers and boaters would have “strict” social-distancing protocols, including no riding in golf carts or playing within six feet of another golfer.

Boaters, botanists can resume hobbies

Boaters also can hit Michigan’s lakes this weekend, where temperatures are supposed to reach the 50s in the Detroit area.

In addition, lawn services, garden shops, landscapers and nurseries are among the group of businesses now that can open. Previously, large stores were required to block off certain nonessential sections to shoppers, such as gardening and home improvement supplies.

However, Whitmer is requiring masks to be worn in indoor public places, even saying businesses have the right to refuse customers who don’t have one.

But there will be no arrests or tickets issued for not wearing a mask, Whitmer said.

Casinos faced continued closure

Detroit’s three casinos will continue to be closed through at least May 15, meaning a bet will not be placed in them for two full months.

Greektown Casino-Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino closed on March 16, as did Caesars Windsor across the Detroit River in Canada.

That came after Michigan sports betting started on March 11 when MGM and Greektown opened their sportsbooks.

Employees from Detroit’s casinos have been furloughed since early April.

MGM Grand Detroit canceled hotel reservations for guests through May 21 with full refunds. Guests can now book stays at MGM properties for a June 1 arrival or later.

Michigan’s tribal casinos also closed

The 23 tribal casinos in Michigan, which are not under the authority of Whitmer, were all closed by March 22.

Many of the tribal casinos had set dates in early April to reopen. Throughout the month, those dates have been pushed back.

The 12 tribal casinos in the Lower Peninsula have not set dates for reopening, according to their websites and social media pages.

Most Upper Peninsula casinos set to reopen soon

Of the 11 casinos in the Upper Peninsula, only Island Resort & Casino has not announced a scheduled reopening date, though officials may voluntarily shift these plans under Whitmer’s extension.

The five Kewadin Casinos were slated to open May 1 but pushed that date back to May 15 after Whitmer’s announcement. The Ojibwa Casinos will be closed through April and “possibly beyond,” according to their most recent update.

Bay Mills Resort & Casinos have their closures scheduled through the end of April, and Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet was scheduled to reopen May 1, but announced late Saturday it would not open at that time.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He’s also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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