Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that the state Department of Health and Human Services order closing Detroit’s three commercial casinos and other businesses would be extended another 12 days.
The order shutting down high schools and colleges (in-person learning), restaurants and bars, theaters and workplaces when work can be done from home is in effect in Michigan" until Dec. 20. The previous order was set to expire at the end of the day Tuesday.
While Michigan has seen some improvement since the shutdown on Nov. 18, the state went over 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases Monday. The number of deaths from COVID-19 in Michigan is near 10,000.
The second shutdown of the year for MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino came a week before Thanksgiving. The first happened when 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.
About a third of Michigan’s 24 tribal casinos, which are not subject to the state order, decided to close with many of the seven expected to reopen this week. Bay Mills Resort and Casino announced that it would stay closed until Dec. 18. During the first shutdown, the tribal casinos closed briefly before returning to operations later in the spring.
Early 2021 Launch for Online Gaming
On Monday, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) said it’s looking more and more likely that the launch of Michigan online casino gaming and sports betting markets will happen in early 2021.
“We estimate four to six weeks, but it will depend on the applicants getting the required information to us,” Mary Kay Bean, communications specialist for the MGCB, said in an email.
Last week the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) waived the required 15 session days for the final draft of the gaming rules to be before the committee. Without the waiver from the JCAR, state officials would have been required to re-submit the gaming rules once again in January with a new set of lawmakers. The 15-session day count would have reset with the new calendar year, and Michigan’s online launch could have been delayed until February.
But with the waiver, early 2021 becomes a real possibility. The next step for a statewide launch is final licensing approval for the platform providers and operators wishing to enter the Michigan online market. Each operator and provider is required to submit approval letters they receive from independent test labs to show they are meeting the state’s technical requirements.