6 Michigan Tribal Casinos Closing, Others Adding COVID-19 Restrictions

Written By Matt Schoch on November 19, 2020
tribal casinos

A half-dozen Upper Peninsula tribal casinos are following the governor’s orders, even though they don’t have to.

Six casinos are closing as rising COVID-19 case counts hit Michigan, joining Detroit’s trio of casinos that are subject to the state’s shutdown orders

Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino closed early Wednesday morning and will remain shuttered until Dec. 8.

This effectively pauses the Detroit sports betting market, as online sports betting is not yet available.

Other tribal casinos are still open, though restrictions on gameplay, dining, and entertainment are in place.

Bay Mills was first tribal casino to close in November

All 23 of Michigan’s tribal casinos closed during the spring shut down, but that’s not the case yet for the latest COVID-19 case surge.

The Bay Mills Indian Community announced on Monday that it was following the state health department’s guide and shutting down its casino once again.

Bay Mills closed on Wednesday with plans to reopen on Dec. 8.

“The pandemic is unpredictable,” BMIC chairman Bryan Newland said in a statement. “Fortunately, we budgeted CARES Act funds in anticipation another shut down might occur. We believe in protecting our community as well as our employees.”

The BMIC operates another casino in Brimley, Kings Club Casino, which closed in the spring and still has not reopened.

Kewadin closing all five UP locations

On Tuesday night, Kewadin Casinos followed Bay Mills’ lead, announcing its five locations would close until Dec. 8.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians operates Kewadin Casinos in Christmas, Hessel, Manistique, Sault Ste. Marie, and St. Ignace.

Hotel guests at the locations were required to check out on Wednesday. Reservations for guests were automatically canceled during the closure with a full refund.

COVID-19 restrictions at other tribal casinos

When tribal casinos reopened over the summer, they rolled out a variety of safety guidelines to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the six casinos listed above are the only ones closing this week, several other tribal casinos are implementing new operational changes.

They include:

  • Gun Lake Casino in Wayland closed the retail sportsbook counter, the gift shop, table games outside of high limit, and dining and drinking facilities.
  • Island Resort Casino in Harris canceled Club Four One entertainment, including live bands and comedy, until Dec. 10.
  • Little River Casino Resort in Manistee reduced hours, restricted capacity to 25%, made restaurants carry-out only, closed table games, and closed every other slot machine
  • Ojibwa Casinos in Baraga and Marquette have suspended table games.
  • Turtle Creek and Leelanau Sands casinos in the Traverse City area reduced hours, banned food from the gaming floor, closed bars, made restaurants carry-out only, and contained table games to Thursday through Sunday.

Customers should call the casinos for information on reservations, cancellations, and refunds during the closure.

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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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