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Detroit casinos limited to 15% capacity upon reopening


The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has approved minimum reopening guidelines for Detroit’s three commercial casinos, which will limit each property to 15% of legal capacity and ban smoking on the gaming floor. 

A date for reopening is yet to be finalized, after the venues closed from March 16 as Michigan went into lockdown to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19). 

While this date will be determined by an executive order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, public health and safety protocols have now been issued, giving an idea of what the venues will look like once they reopen. 

Each will be required to limit their entrance points, and check each visitor’s temperature before allowing them entry. Casinos will be limited to 15% of the legal capacity based on Fire Department maximums.

To avoid patrons from congregating outside the venues, operators must also ensure queues are properly socially distanced, with a space of at least six feet between each individual. 

Inside the property, poker rooms will remain shuttered, due to the difficulties in maintaining social distancing at the tables. For other table games, there will be a three-player limit, though this rises to four for roulette and midi-baccarat games, and to six for craps. All dealers must wear masks and face shields.

For slots, social distancing must be maintained either by installing plexiglass barriers between machines, removing seating from some devices, or by disabling a number of terminals to ensure players are properly spaced out.

A range of amenities will also remain prohibited upon reopening, alongside poker rooms. Concerts, nightclubs, live events and shows will not be available, while promotional activities that could encourage spikes in visitation are not permitted. 

Players will also be prohibited from smoking on the casino floor, with operators advised to provide an alternative area for smoking. 

“In compiling these minimum guidelines, we considered [Centre for Disease Control] recommendations, Nevada Gaming Board guidelines and information from the National Indian Gaming Commission,” MGCB executive director Richard S. Kalm explained. 

“We required the casinos to propose reopening plans, and we consulted with the casino unions on the guidelines. We believe the guidelines will protect the public when it is safe to reopen the casinos.”

In related news, revenue for the three casinos – the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Penn National’s GreekTown Casino – is now down 51.6% year-on-year for the year to 30 May. Revenue remains unchanged at $299.2m since the venues’ closure from March 16. 

Amid the land-based shutdown, efforts to accelerate the launch of online betting and gaming are underway, with the MGCB accepting online supplier license applications from May 15. While the market was originally expected to launch early in 2021, sources in the state have told iGB North America they are confident of going live late in 2020.