Casino Smoking in Michigan After COVID: Which Casinos Allow It?

Before 20202, casino floors were one of the last indoor places smokers could usually enjoy their cigarettes or cigars. Restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic changed that in many places, including the Detroit area.

Michigan casinos shut down for several months in the spring of 2020. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) allowed them to re-open that June, but with some restrictions. One of these was that smoking inside was no longer permitted.

The rationale at the time was that removing masks was not allowed indoors. Smoking and other unmasked activities, therefore, had to go.

One and a half years later, the state has lifted that temporary restriction. Whether or not to allow smoking is once again up to the casino operator.

Can You Smoke in Detroit Casinos?

Smokers and non-smokers alike will be wondering where smoking is allowed. The short answer is that you can smoke in Detroit casinos, but not every casino and not everywhere. Detroit is home to three land-based casinos, and each one has different rules when it comes to indoor smoking.

MGM Grand Detroit

One of the most popular casinos recently announced its decision to allow smoking indoors again. The new policy went into effect on Dec 28, 2022.

Unfortunately, from the perspective of smokers hoping to partake at the table, the casino still does not allow smoking on the main casino floor.

Instead, there are two designated smoking areas, Smoking Slots East and Smoking Slots West. These are the rooms formerly known as Clear and Clear II. The casino has added doors to minimize smoke entering other indoor spaces. Players looking to smoke outside can still use the smoking patio as well.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown

This casino is split into lower and upper levels. Smoking is allowed on the upper floor, which is also home to Barstool Sportsbook. The casino’s poker room is smoke-free, however.

Motor City Casino

Motor City has elected to keep the smoking ban in place. There is no indoor smoking anywhere on the property.

MGM’s Decision Swims Against the Current

Representatives for MGM Grand Detroit stated that the decision came after surveying its customers. They say that they found that there is a demand for indoor smoking.

Recent data shows that online casinos in Michigan are outpacing land-based casinos in revenue. Restoring some limited smoking may be a chance for MGM Grand Detroit and Hollywood to bring back some in-person customers and increase profits.

However, the move goes against the industry trend. There are now over 1,000 smoke-free gaming properties in the US.

About 150 tribal casinos are on the list, including some of the most popular Michigan casinos, such as:

  • • Leelanau Sands Casino
    • Turtle Creek Casino
    • Bay Mills Resort & Casino
    • Northern Waters Casino Resort
    • Odawa Casinos
    • Sagganing Eagles Landing Casino
    • Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort

These weren’t affected by the Detroit policy and have implemented the ban of their own accord.

Health advocates have long criticized casinos for allowing smoking, and the decision to bring back indoor smoking in Detroit casinos didn’t’ go unnoticed.

Americans for Nonsmokers” Rights, a non-profit organization working with Michigan state and local health organizations, expressed their disappointment. President and CEO Cynthia Hallett issued a statement on the subject, saying:

Detroit casino workers are receiving the equivalent of coal in their stockings this week.

She called the decision “unacceptable,” adding that workers must choose between their health and a paycheck. Pointing out that only 12% of the US population smokes, Hallett argues that casinos are choosing profits over the health of their employees.

Are Smoke-Free Casinos Still the Future?

Smoking and casinos have gone hand in hand for as long as one can remember. However, the future is likely headed in a different direction.

Tobacco usage has dropped dramatically in recent decades. According to the American Lung Association, 13.7% of adults smoked in 2018, compared to 23.3% in 2000 and 42.4% in 1965. Tobacco usage amongst youths is no longer considered cool. Among the younger demographic, the smoking rate was only 8.8% in 2018, compared to 27.5% in 1991.

Further, multiple reports show that smoking is no longer as big a part of the casino experience as it once was.

One such report by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming shows that non-smoking casinos perform better than those which allow smoking. The COVID-19 pandemic also helped change people’s views about smoking inside the casino floor.

C3 Gaming’s report also shows that in a survey from the Pacific Northwest, smoking is not among the essential factors for choosing a casino. The number one factor, selected by 32% of respondents, was the location and proximity to home. Meanwhile, 26% said they look for a non-smoking casino, while only 4% said they prioritize finding one that allows it.

Another report from Spectrum Gaming Group found that smokers accounted for only 21% of players at Atlantic City casinos. On the other hand, the study found that this group brought in 32% of the revenue. That may be why New Jersey casino operators have so far resisted calls from Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) to implement a ban.

However, several other northeastern states have already done so. As a result, smokers’ prevalence and contribution to overall gaming revenue are decreasing, and people’s habits are changing. Furthermore, more and more casino employees are concerned about their health and future in the business. Enrollment in groups like CEASE is on the rise, and pressure to implement – or in this case, re-implement – smoking bans will only increase over time.

About the Author

Chav Vasilev

Having worked in restaurant management for years, Chav turned his passion for sports into a career as a sports betting and online gambling freelance writer. Having grown up in Europe, he has been exposed to betting and gambling for years and has closely followed the U.S. growth. When not writing, you can find him playing poker online or watching and betting on soccer (Hala Madrid/YNWA), NFL, NBA, and F1.