Michigan’s commercial casinos don’t have a set reopen date yet, but when they do visitors and employees will be subject to a number of new safety measures, including mandatory face coverings and temperature screenings.
Michigan’s state-licensed casinos, which include Greektown Casino, MotorCity Casino Hotel, and MGM Grand Detroit, have remained closed since mid-March when coronavirus forced the closure of all state and tribal casinos. Not beholden to state law, some of Michigan’s tribal casinos have already reopened.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) this week announced new minimum health and safety guidelines casinos in Detroit must follow, which will take effect once MI Governor Gretchen Whitmer allows casinos to reopen under her Safe Start Plan.
“In compiling these minimum guidelines, we considered CDC recommendations, Nevada Gaming Board guidelines and information from the National Indian Gaming Commission,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director. “We required the casinos to propose reopening plans, and we consulted with the casino unions on the guidelines. We believe the guidelines will protect the public when it is safe to reopen the casinos.”
Casino Requirements That Affect Visitors The Most
- Each casino will be limited to 15% of its legal capacity
- Mandatory mask-wearing “which covers the nose and mouth,” except while eating, drinking, or verifying your identity. Masks will be provided by the casino to guests who don’t have one.
- Controlled entrance points with temperature checks
- Smoking on casino floors will be banned
- Poker rooms will be closed
- Additional cleaning and sanitizing protocols
- Social distancing
Michigan Casino Employees Also Subject To New Rules
The casinos themselves and their employees must also follow certain requirements. First of all and most noticeably, employees must wear masks or face shields, and will be allowed to wear gloves while working if they choose. Every employee must receive special COVID-19 training which includes best practices for preventing the virus, proper disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE), and how to recognize symptoms.
Each casino must also name an employee to serve as its liaison officer responsible for taking reports from employees on possible COVID-19 infections. All food and beverages will be served in disposable dishware.
How Will The Casino Floor Itself Be Changing?
Gambling itself will be markedly different from what players are used to. Slot machines must be arranged to allow for six feet of social distancing, either by placing a plexiglass barrier between machines or disabling certain slot machines.
Poker rooms will remain closed during the initial opening phase, and all table games will be limited as follows:
- Table games – 3 players per table
- Roulette, midi-baccarat – 4 players per table
- Craps – 6 player per table
All dealers must wear masks, and cards will be replaced much more frequently. Raucous games that draw a crowd like craps will likely be much more subdued, with no congregating around games allowed. The dice will also be sanitized after each new shooter, and chips will be “cleaned and sanitized daily.”
What Will Not Be Allowed When Michigan Casinos Reopen?
Casinos are typically free-wheeling environments where people can let loose and do what they want (within reason). Perhaps to some gamers’ chagrin, MGCB has prohibited the following during the initial reopening:
- Poker rooms
- Smoking on the casino floor
- Any concerts, nightclubs, live events, or shows
- Any promotions or other activities that will make social distancing difficult
- Valet service
- Coat check
- Self-serve buffets
- Self-serve coffee and soda stations
- Non-disposable drinkware
How Will The Rules Affect Michigan Sportsbooks?
All sports wagering areas will be configured to allow for a minimum of six feet between patrons to promote social distancing. Markings will be placed on the floor to serve as a visual social distancing guide. All retail sportsbook surfaces, from tables, to ticket counters, to ATMs and redemption terminals, will be frequently sanitized. Lastly, any sports wagering ticket writers must “wear a mask and/or face shield and gloves and/or have a plexiglass barrier” between them and the bettor at the counter.
As a final word to its guidelines, MGCB offered the following conclusion:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt the casino industry an unexpected and unprecedented blow over the last few months. The Board is committed to assisting each casino Licensee to reopen in a safe and efficient manner consistent with CDC and Michigan guidelines. We fully anticipate that we will work together to rebuild this industry to again be a leading economic engine for Michigan and to restore the first-rate entertainment facilities each of our Licensees have developed.”
The full extent of the guidelines can be found here.