Detroit Casinos Set to Reopen December 21
Governor Gretchen Whitmer has given the go-ahead for Detroit’s commercial casinos to reopen on December 21.
Just before the weekend, the people of Detroit received a little good news. A press conference was hosted by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to reveal that casinos will reopen on December 21 in Detroit. Some employees will be able to go back to work, but the venues will still be restricted with a largely reduced capacity rate.
Reopening After November Closure
The casinos in Detroit were forced to close back in November for a second time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The casinos first closed in March when the virus first started. The closures have occurred due to an increase in positive cases and the hope is that shutting down gathering spots will help to slow the spread of the virus.
Today, Whitmer will allow the casinos to reopen for service as well as movie theaters and bowling alleys. However, the total capacity cannot exceed 100 people in the same space. So, this means that any one area cannot have a grouping of 100 people or more.
With the stiff constraints, it is unclear as to if the three casinos in the city will decide to reopen. They may not want to try and offer services due to the lower number of people allowed inside. In the press conference, Whitmer pointed out that residents of the state have stepped up and did their part to slow the spread of the virus. Due to the hard work of the collective group, steps can be taken to carefully lift the protocols in place.
The decision by the governor was made after a two-week decrease was seen involving the number of COVID-19 cases as well as the hospitalization rate. The state is currently reporting 439 cases per one million residents instead of 739, as was the case last month.
Hurting the Bottom Line
With the closures, the casinos revenues have been hit hard, especially considering they have only been operational for a short time since March, and with restrictions in place. Back when the casinos were first allowed to reopen in early August, the capacity was limited to 15%. The state was one of the last in the US to allow commercial gaming to begin again.
Unfortunately, due to the closure, the gross gaming revenue totals came in at $0 during the second quarter of the year. In the third quarter, just over $163 million was won. This was a decrease of over 53% compared to the same time frame in 2019.
Due to the latest closure, the three casinos in Detroit are expected to lose around $67 million. The Greektown casino, MotorCity, and MGM Grand have been unable to function at times due to state orders, but tribal casinos remained open. The tribal venues do not have to adhere to state mandates due to being located on sovereign lands.
One saving grace for the state could be the launch of online gambling services. Casinos in Detroit will be able to generate revenues even if the land-based venues are shut down once online gambling is live. The Michigan Gaming Control Board recently approved a total of 15 online gaming and sports betting permits. To be approved, providers must meet regulatory requirements set by the state.
Because of this stipulation, the providers cannot go live until the state says they have met all the stipulations set by the Board. Independent testing of games and platforms must be completed along with employees having the right occupational licensing when needed.
It is expected that the new industry will launch in the coming weeks, or at least by early 2021. Large revenues are expected for the state as operators get started offering online casino, poker and sports betting services.