Once permitted to reopen, Detroit casinos will resume operations under strict capacity curtails
Casinos in Detroit, once permitted to resume by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, will have to follow strict capacity curtails along with a number of guidelines tailored to defend public against a potential flare-up of new corona virus transmissions.
The largest city in the Midwestern state of Michigan’s three commercial casinos, namely Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity casino, have been closed since the mid of March this year. Currently, the state governor’s office has no time line as to when Gov. Whitmer will permit the three gambling and entertainment facilities to resume operations.
Whenever Gov. Whitmer permits the three commercial casinos to reopen, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) will table a list of string of health safety procedures that each gambling facility will have to abide by.
MGCB says that the state’s commercial casinos will be restricted to 15 per cent of their standard occupancies. The figure is far lower than announced by gaming regulators in other states in the US. Las Vegas casinos, for example, resumed operations last week, with a capacity limit of 50 per cent. Capacity limits are necessary to maintain social distancing, which is must for preventing the deadly corona virus from spreading further.
Speaking on the topic, MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm said, “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 addition to capacity limits, casino operators will have to sanitize their properties, mark off high-traffic areas to ensure social distancing, and all casino employees and guests will be asked to wear face masks. Casino operators will also be asked to make arrangements for their workers to get training on health safety and disinfection protocols.
Full reopening of the struggling casino industry is still ways away. Detroit’s commercial casinos generated $1.45 billion in revenue 2019. The current year started strong for the gambling properties, with gross gaming revenue (GGR) up 7 per cent through February. But, the corona virus outbreak forced authorities to issue shutdown orders for all non-essential businesses, including casinos. Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan recently cautioned that the city casinos would likely not be able to resume full-scale operations until 2021. Closed casinos are costing the city more than $600,000 in lost tax revenue each day. Last year, the city casinos delivered $184.2 million in taxes and fees. The collected funds are utilized to meet police and fire department costs as well as for economic development programs.
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