Detroit casino employees split on labor-agreement votes while Motor City poker room faces possible changes

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: November 22, 2023 7:28 am EST

Striking employees at two of three Detroit, Michigan casinos tentatively approved new labor deals with the casinos on Sunday to end a walkout that had lasted over a month, while employees at the third casino, MGM Grand Detroit, narrowly voted down a similar deal and remain on the picket lines.

The ongoing strike has had varying levels on live poker’s available in Detroit. The poker rooms at MGM Grand and MotorCity Casino, one of the two casinos where striking workers approved a new deal, shut down the poker action as the strike began amid staffing shortages. At the third strike-impacted Detroit venue, Hollywood Casino at Greektown, the 10-table poker room remained open for business.

However, the largest of the three rooms, the 37-table room at MotorCity, may not re-open in the same form as it existed pre-strike. Widespread rumors that have reached social media suggest the casino’s room is likely to be repurposed and all poker games will be spread in the existing tournament area on the casino’s main floor.

Low player volume cited as reason for possible transition

Michigan poker player Rob “atarirobby” Smith posted the spreading rumors on X / Facebook recently, including the report that the existing poker room at MotorCity is likely to be converted into a dedicated cigar bar:

Smith also offered a text he received from one of MGM Grand’s striking workers:

Even with a significant cutback in tables from the current 37, MotorCity could still remain Detroit’s largest live-poker venue. MGM Grand’s poker room, Detroit’s second largest, has only 14 tables. MotorCity could lose its claim to hosting Michigan’s largest poker room, however, as Firekeepers Casino near Battle Creek currently offers 26 tables.

Labor deals runs for five years, include upfront pay hikes

The workers at Hollywood Greektown and MotorCity successfully negotiated an immediate $3/hour raise and total raises of $5/hour over the five-year span of the deal. Other negotiated worker benefits include a hold on increases in medical insurance costs, a new 401(K) retirement-savings plan, and reduced workloads in certain employee categories.

MGM Grand Detroit employees rejected the same deal, which was negotiated with all three casinos by the Detroit Casino Council, which represents five unions in total. 1,600 of the 3,700 workers who went on strike are employed by MGM Grand, which will continue to negotiate with the union group.

Featured image source: Facebook / MotorCity Casino