Detroit’s three casinos will be shut down again on Wednesday as part of a new public health order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The new order will last at least three weeks and includes widespread changes as Michigan looks to get a handle on the rising numbers of positive coronavirus cases within the state. Casinos are listed as one of the businesses that will have to temporarily be shut down, along with movie theaters, indoor ice rinks, bowling alleys and bingo halls. Organized sports are canceled, but professional and college athletics can continue.
“We are in the worst moment of this pandemic to date,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a news conference Sunday. “The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice and we need to take some action because as the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors, the virus will spread, more people will get sick, and there will be more fatalities.”
According to the COVID Tracking project, Michigan’s seven-day average of new cases has more than doubled in the last two weeks, increasing from 3,113 to 6,684 during that span. Daily deaths has gone up from 25 to 62, while the number of patients currently hospitalized sits at around 3,000.
Tonight, @MichiganHHS issued an emergency order that enacts a three-week pause, targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities to curb our state’s rising #COVID19 infection rates. pic.twitter.com/yEc0enVPBX— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) November 16, 2020
This will be the second shutdown of the year for MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino. Detroit’s three commercial casinos closed their doors in March because of the coronavirus. They began to reopen on Aug. 5 with strict safety precautions in place, including operating at just 15% capacity and requiring masks and temperature checks.
Michigan also has 24 tribal casinos, but those facilities are not subject to the MDHHS order. It remains to be seen if they will stay open or follow the state’s lead in shutting down. During the first shutdown, the tribal casinos closed briefly before returning to operations later in the spring.
The decision comes as sports betting on the NFL and Big Ten football has given bettors a reason to visit the casinos.
It’s too early to project how this second shutdown will affect casinos, but another closure does open the possibility for more layoffs going forward. The first shutdown resulted in layoffs at the three Detroit casinos. In July, MotorCity laid off more than 2,500 of its employees soon after Greektown announced 621 permanent layoffs. Then, in September, MGM Grand Detroit laid off 1,100 employees as part of MGM’s nationwide downsizing plan. The cuts at MGM included the release of 18,000 of its furloughed workers.
Now, it remains to be seen how another shutdown could impact casino workers going forward. Since reopening, Detroit’s casinos saw increased month-over-month revenue numbers. In August, the casinos reported $69.3 million in revenue and $87.9 million in September before the highest total since reopening with $101.4 million in October.