In Michigan, two of Detroit’s three downtown casinos are reportedly planning to reopen their shuttered poker rooms, with one possibly set to do so this week, unbeknownst to the Michigan Gaming Contol Board (MGCB). Meanwhile, after being shut down for nearly five months due to COVID-19 health concerns, the city’s trio of commercial casinos reported $69.3 million in monthly aggregate revenue for August.

Card rooms at MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity and Greektown casinos haven’t been in play since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order closing them on March 16, 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

According to The Detroit News, MotorCity Casino customers received an email notification last week, declaring “Detroit’s best Poker Room reopens NEXT WEEK!” The mass emailing would seem to indicate that the casino-hotel owned by American billionaire businesswoman, Marian Ilitch, would reopen this week, however, a spokesman for the gambling property reportedly did not return a message from the news agency.

A spokesman for Greektown Casino operator Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN), did reportedly say that they are hoping the poker room is “back up in a few weeks.”

In the dark:

Apparently, the MGCB was caught a bit off guard by all the news, and when contacted by the news agency, spokesperson Mary Kay Bean reportedly said that it [the board] would address poker when “one of the casinos indicates an interest in offering it.”

Upon hearing that customers of MotorCity were receiving emails regarding the fast-approaching relaunch, Bean reportedly said that “any plans require board approval, and the casinos must follow (Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s) workplace safety executive order.”

Bean added that the casinos’ social distancing plans and other requirements for health and safety must be approved by the MGCB. She noted that “It is the same approach used prior to the reopening of the casinos.”

Meanwhile, MGM Grand Detroit, owned and operated by MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM), reportedly said that it has no immediate plans for the reopening of the poker room.

Layoffs and revenue declines:

About a week after MGM Grand Detroit laid off some 1,100 employees, Greektown Casino announced earlier this month that it would be permanently laying off 43 union employees from Sept. 28, due to lost revenues resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

In July, the three casinos in Detroit announced first-half aggregated gross gaming revenues that were 59.3 percent lower year-on-year at just $299.2 million, with MGM Grand’s casino revenues for the six months to the end of June plummet by 40 percent year-on-year to $126.5 million, while the associated first-half takings at nearby MotorCity and Greektown casinos purportedly plunged by a matching 41 percent to $102.6 million and $70.1 million respectively.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on July 29, 2020, allowing Detroit casinos to partially reopen at 15 percent capacity – the strictest in the country –  starting Aug. 5. However, in addition to strict health and safety guidelines, many of the casino’s amenities, including poker which is considered a high-risk casino activity, remain closed.

Far to go:

As noted, August 2020 figures from the MGCB report that the city’s trio of commercial casinos generated revenue of $69.3 million, while aggregate revenue for table games and slots was down 42 percent compared with last year’s results for the same month. That is a 62 percent year to date plunge from August 2019.

Comparing last year’s August results, revenue at MGM Grand Detroit dropped 46 percent to $28.6 million. At MotorCity, revenue fell 37.5 percent to $25 million, and 41.5 percent to $15.7 million at Greektown, while market shares for the month were 41 percent, 36 percent, and 23 percent respectively.

The three casinos contributed $5.6 million to the State of Michigan during August 2020, compared with $9.7 million for the same time last year.

Contributions from sports betting hit $1.97 million in “qualified adjusted gross receipts,” with MGM leading the trio at $932,601, followed by MotorCity’s $493,275, and $551,176 for Greektown.





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