Live Updates On Coronavirus In Michigan, Impact On Casino Industry

Written By Matt Schoch on March 16, 2020
Michigan Lottery

With the COVID-19 news ever evolving, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Detroit’s three casinos are being temporarily shut down by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

However, the state’s nearly two dozen tribal casinos are not all beholden to the board.

Legalized sports betting opened in Detroit last week right around the time most sports leagues shut down because of the national emergency.

The situation is fluid and there are new headlines with every refresh of your Twitter feed. Here’s the latest:


March 21 updates

1 p.m. – All Upper Peninsula casinos closing by early Sunday

As of midnight early Sunday, all 11 Upper Peninsulas will temporarily be closed because of coronavirus concerns.

The five Kewadin locations, two Ojibwa locations, and Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet will be the final casinos to close early Sunday.

An announcement said the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Council plans to re-open the Ojibwa locations in Marquette and Baraga on April 12 and that casino and government employees will be compensated during this temporary closure.

Bay Mills Resort and Casino and Kings Club will open at noon on April 10, Northern Waters will close until April 11 and Island Resort Casino in Harris is closed through April 6.


March 18 updates

4 p.m. – MotorCity Casino donating to DDOT

MotorCity Casino announced Wednesday it donated 6,000 sanitizing wipes and 8,000 vinyl gloves to the city of Detroit on Tuesday night for Detroit Department of Transportation drivers to use.


2 p.m. – Gun Lake announces food assistance program

The temporary closure of Gun Lake Casino in Wayland has resulted in one positive for the local community.

The casino announced Wednesday a food assistance program that is a result of the coronavirus closure, which is slated to run through March 30.

Gun Lake donated more than 2.75 tons of food from their coolers to local organizations in West Michigan, including Dégagé Ministries, Feeding America West Michigan and Hand2Hand.

March 17 updates

11 a.m. – Upper Peninsula casions still in operation

The games are still going on at some of the Upper Peninsula casinos, while all Lower Peninsula facilities have been closed.

Gov. Whitmer has no authority over tribal casinos, but many are voluntarily shutting down anyways.

In the U.P., Kings Club and Bay Mills Resort in Brimley have shortened from 24 hours to being open from 8 a.m. until midnight this week. Then, the casinos will close from midnight Friday through April 10.

Table games and beverage stations have been closed at the five Kewadin Casino locations, while bus trips through April 5 will be rescheduled. Shows have been postponed at many of the facilities, including a Candlebox concert on April 18 in Sault Ste. Marie.

The two Ojibwa Casino locations in Baraga and Marquette were open Tuesday, though the Marquette location was scheduled to close from 2:30 a.m. until 7 on Wednesday for cleaning.

At Island Resort & Casino in Harris, bus tours will be halted from Thursday through April 6. Tesla shows on April 24-25 are also postponed.


10:30 a.m. – Report: MGM Grand Detroit will pay its workers

MGM Grand will pay its employees and continue its health care coverage for workers during the coronavirus shutdown, the Detroit Free Press reported.

UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg confirmed with the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday that MGM decided late Monday “to pay their workers as the other casinos have in Detroit, while they’re impacted, and continue their healthcare coverage through June.”


3 a.m. – All Lower Peninsula casinos closed as Four Winds shuts down

Four Winds Casino locations in New Boston, Dowagiac and Hartford closed overnight Tuesday, meaning all 14 Lower Peninsula casinos are now closed.

The casino announced on its web site that the closure will continue until March 30 and then re-evaluated. All entertainment through April 4 is being postponed.


March 16 updates

9:40 p.m. – Four Up North casinos closing

A quartet of northern Michigan tribal casinos are closing this week voluntarily.

Turtle Creek in Williamsburg, Leelanau Sands in Peshawbestown and Little River in Manistee closed on Monday, and Petoskey’s Odawa Casino will close Tuesday. All four facilities mentioned March 30 as a potential tentative re-opening date.

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians will voluntarily close the Odawa at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The hotel will remain open.

Notices about the four closures said all employees will be fully compensated during the closings.


3:20 p.m. – Soaring Eagle joins list of closures

At 5 p.m. Monday, Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant will be the next Michigan casino to close.

According to the Soaring Eagle website, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe facility will close until further notice, along with the tribe’s Saganing Eagles Landing Casino & Hotel in Standish.


1:39 p.m. – MGM Grand Detroit moves closure to 3 p.m.

In an email to customers, MGM Grand Detroit moved its Monday closure up two hours to 3 p.m., falling in line with Whitmer’s directive to close at that time.

“As always, the health and safety of our customers and employees is our top priority,” the email read, noting the facility will be closed two weeks and re-evaluated after that.

MGM will be the third and final of the Detroit casinos to close because of the ongoing national emergency.


Noon – MotorCity Casino, Greektown closed

MotorCity Casino and Greentown Casino closed at noon, two of Detroit’s three casinos.

But the MotorCity hotel will remain open “offering its luxury accommodations to those who need a respite during these unprecedented times,” according to information on the casino website.

Concerts at MotorCity through April 5 are being rescheduled with a Brian McKnight show set for March 19 already moved to May 24.

MGM Grand Detroit is still set to close at 5 p.m.


4 a.m. – Casino Windsor closes overnight

Across the Detroit River from downtown, Caesars Windsor closed the gaming floor at 4 a.m. Monday and hotel guests were told to depart by noon.

The Casino also announced the postponement of four concerts: Ice Cube on March 26, Pitbull on March 29, REO Speedwagon on April 3 and Jason Derulo on April 10.


3 a.m. – FireKeepers in Battle Creek closes

FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek closed overnight Monday with all scheduled entertainment postponed during the closure.

A performance by Larry the Cable Guy was postponed on Saturday.


12:35 a.m. – Greektown Casino will pay its employees

According to The Detroit News, Greektown Casino will continue to pay its employees their full wages during the shutdown, which will start at noon Monday and continue for at least two weeks.


March 15 updates

11:30 p.m. – MGM Grand to close Monday

MGM Grand Detroit announced it would be closing at 5 p.m. on Monday for two weeks, at which time the status will be re-evaluated.

The closure includes also includes the facility’s restaurants and bars.


1:53 p.m. – Rep. Tlaib blasts casinos

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) took aim at Michigan casinos for staying open despite the health concerns, posting on Twitter that: “Corporate greed is showing its ugly face during this public health crisis.”

March 14 updates

5:08 p.m. – Gun Lake Casino voluntarily closing

Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, a tribal property south of Grand Rapids, announced its voluntarily closing from 3 a.m. Monday until 9 a.m. on March 30.

“While there is no requirement to close, we believe in doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.

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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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