Two Detroit Casinos Eye Possible Aug. 1 Reopening Date

Written By Matt Schoch on July 22, 2020Last Updated on September 25, 2020

Based on their upcoming plans, two of Detroit’s casinos are looking optimistically at gambling returning soon to the city.

MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino are now both accepting hotel reservations on their websites for Aug. 1 and beyond.

Detroit’s three casinos have been closed since March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may not ultimately grant the gambling houses permission to open, the pair is not sitting idly by.

Michigan still going backward in numbers, reopenings

Whitmer has pulled back some of the state’s reopenings this summer as COVID-19 death and infection totals have picked up.

On Tuesday, Michigan added 573 new cases and nine new deaths to the case count, with numbers picking up for people under 50.

Just like Detroit’s three casinos, Whitmer has not yet allowed gyms, movie theaters, and the state’s one horse racing track to reopen for several months.

Whitmer allowed indoor bars to open, but she later shut them down again because of the rising virus numbers.

Meanwhile, all but one of Michigan’s tribal casinos have been reopened by their sovereign Native American operators.

MGM Grand will not open hotel if casino is closed

Residents can go online this week and book rooms at MotorCity and MGM Grand starting Aug. 1, which is a Saturday.

However, according to a statement from MGM Grand Detroit, the resort does not plan to open the hotel while the casino is still closed.

“Our reservation system has to be prepared to take bookings whenever the MGM Grand Detroit hotel reopens and therefore it sets target dates on the website, with the possibility it could change,” according to a statement from MGM Grand Detroit to Playinmichigan.

MotorCity did not return a request for comment.

Sportsbooks missing bets as pro leagues return

Professional sports are ramping up restarts this week, meaning casinos will miss out on expected revenues from new sportsbooks inside the casinos.

MotorCity Casino is owned by Marian Ilitch, mother of Detroit Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch. The property opened its FanDuel Michigan Sportsbook right before the shutdown on March 12.

MGM Grand Detroit opened the BetMGM Sportsbook, and Greektown Casino-Hotel, the city’s third commercial casino, which is also not booking reservations, opened a sportsbook too.

No reopening in sight at Caesars Windsor

Meanwhile, across the Detroit River in Ontario, there is less optimism about Caesars Windsor opening soon.

It wouldn’t matter for most US citizens either, as the US-Canada border is closed through at least Aug. 20.

But Canadians hoping to make a bet soon are likely out of luck.

Windsor is in stage two of the province’s reopening plan, but stage three would only allow for a 50-person capacity during the reopening.

The vice president for the casino’s union said he would be opposed to such a small opening.

According to CKLW AM-800, Darryl Desjarlais of Unifor Local 444 said the 50-person limit would be in addition to staff.

“It’s not my call but I don’t think we’re going to open with 50 people, it’s not feasible,” he said.

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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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