Michigan casinos to reopen without poker due to big restrictions

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Posted on: June 10, 2020 4:50 pm EDT

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has unveiled health and safety requirements that the state’s three non-tribal casinos must follow in order to reopen. While no date has been set for the reopening of the non-tribal casinos, including MotorCity, MGM Grand, and Greektown, the guidelines are clear.

According to the guidelines, the casinos can only allow 15% of their maximum occupancy capacity. What’s more, visitors will be required to wear face masks and have their temperature taken when requested. Smoking on property will be banned, except in designated outdoor areas.

Buffets will remain closed, as will the poker room. Other guidelines that must be followed include 6-foot social distancing guidelines in effect, no valet service or coat check.

While the 15% capacity seems controversial, it was actually a restriction suggested by the casinos. It means, on average, roughly 1,400 to 1,500 patrons on property at one time. When at capacity, people will be turned away.

“In compiling these minimum guidelines, we considered CDC recommendations, Nevada Gaming Board guidelines and information from the National Indian Gaming Commission,” said Gaming Board Executive Director Richard Kalm. “We required the casinos to propose reopening plans, and we consulted with the casino unions on the guidelines.”

When the casinos do reopen, the poker rooms will remain closed. It’s not clear when poker rooms will be permitted to reopen, but many presume that once capacity is increased and social distancing restrictions loosened, poker rooms can resume dealing out cards.

Detroit casinos have been closed since Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order to close them on March 16th in response to the coronavirus pandemic. While tribal casinos weren’t affected by the executive order, many of them closed. Some tribal casinos, however, have already reopened.

Soaring Eagle Casino Resort, for example, opened its doors to the public on June 1st, albeit with restrictions in place. Their comprehensive health and safety plans include the requirement for mandatory masks, no smoking, plexiglass partitions in place, enhanced sanitization practices, and more. The poker room at the property, too, remains closed.