Two Detroit Casinos Take Regulators by Surprise, Say They Are Going to Reopen Poker Rooms

Throwing caution to the wind

We are firmly in “OPEN FOR BUSINESS” mode in the United States because screw it, right? Gotta keep feeding that DOW JONES while we wish the COVID away. As part of the feeding of the capitalism machine, almost all of the nearly 1,000 casinos in the United States are open, including Detroit’s three commercial casinos: MotorCity, MGM Grand Detroit, and Greektown. And now two of them, unbeknownst to the Michigan Gambling Control Board, have decided that they are going to reopen their poker rooms.

Detroit was one of the cities that got absolutely slammed by the novel coronavirus in the spring. Its casinos, like the casinos in the rest of the country, closed in mid-March, but they were among the last to reopen because thankfully, Governor Gretchen Whitmer didn’t completely cave to armed right-wing nutjobs storming the capital, screaming at her to reopen the economy. Now, I still don’t think casinos should be open, but I also understand that it was inevitable. So at least it took until early August for Whitmer to allow Detroit’s casinos to welcome back customers at just 15 percent of capacity.

Like most casinos, the three Detroit venues have not reopened their poker rooms. Poker rooms are particularly appealing to COVID-19, were the virus an organism with a functioning brain, as poker players sit close to each other for hours at a time, exchanging chips and cards all the while. It is a wonderful place to catch a bug if you are into that sort of thing.

Still need to work with regulators

As was the case with general casino reopening, the casinos must have their poker room plans approved by the MGCB and be given the green light from Governor Whitmer to start dealing cards again. MotorCity, though, e-mailed customers last week, telling them that the poker room was going to open this week. And a spokesman for Penn National Gaming, owner of the Greektown Casino, told The Detroit News that it plans to reopen its poker room within a few weeks. The one holdout is MGM Grand, which has no plans right now.

Mary Kay Bean, a spokeswoman for the MGCB, said that the Board would discuss a poker restart when “one of the casinos indicates an interest in offering it.”

Neither MotorCity nor Greektown, according to The Detroit News, had contacted the MGCB to get any sort of process started.

Las Vegas poker rooms getting busier

In the meantime, the Venetian in Las Vegas has already gone so far as to host a live tournament series, running September 7 through September 27. The casino was one of four – along with the Orleans, South Point, and Golden Nugget – that opened its poker room the first weekend that Nevada casinos were allowed to reopen back in early June.

The poker rooms were under strict rules and could only have four-handed tables, but they asked the Nevada Gaming Control Board if they could up that by 25 percent, which they did immediately. In that same month, the Venetian had the first multi-table poker tournament in Las Vegas and now it has the first tournament series.

Stay safe, everyone!

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