Detroit poker rooms still impacted by labor walkout

Michigan poker rooms
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: October 25, 2023 23:03 PDT

Three prominent casinos in Detroit remain open but partially limited in services falling last week's walkout by roughly 3,700 union-representated employees, including dealers and floor staff. MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown all remain impacted by the walkout, which began last Thursday.

Two of the three casinos' poker rooms, at MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino, have closed their poker rooms temporarily while the labor situation remains unresolved. The third Detroit room, at Hollywood Greektown, remains open but has shown light traffic in recent days.

The MotorCity Casino's 37-table room is the largest in Detroit, while MGM Grand Detroit normally offers 14 tables and Hollywood Greektown, a Penn property, has 10. As seen widely during the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery, -- and which generated headlines at two Boston casinos -- poker-room operations are often the first to be sidelined and the last to be reopened, largely due to the relatively high amount of manpower needed to run the rooms.

All three casinos have posted notices regarding the partially limited services on their websites. A message on MGM Grand Detroit's landing page at Bravo Poker Live offers just this: "***The poker room is temporarily closed until further notice. We do apologize for any inconvenience. We will keep everyone posted with any future updates. Thanks."

MotorCity's online site offers an even shorter message: "Poker room is TEMPORARILY CLOSED."

Higher pay, reduced workloads among issues at stake

The striking employees, who are affiliated with five different unions in total, seek higher pay and increases in secondary benefits, such as retirement benefits and continuing health-care coverage. The employees also seek to have their workloads reduced and returned to pre-pandemic levels. As in many other casino markets, the Detroit properties laid off many hundreds of workers when the COVID-19 lockdown hit, yet did not rehire all of them when the properties reopened.

Detroit's City Council also approved a resolution supporting the striking workers, after a large number of picketers arrived at the Council's chambers seeking the city's support. The three casinos' operations generate roughly $450,000 per day in tax revenue for the city's coffers.