Thousands of workers at Detroit’s three casinos will have their pay stopped as the properties have extended their shutdown amid the raging coronavirus pandemic.
MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino, and MotorCity Casino will now remain closed until at least April 13.
The three gambling venues, all located in downtown Detroit, promised to pay their workers throughout the original shutdown period, which expires tomorrow, March 31.
However, the rapid spread of the dangerous and highly contagious virus across the US has forced the properties to extend the shutdown window through at least mid-April. The casinos informed their workers that they will cease pay beyond March 31, but said they would extend benefits through June 30.
MGM Grand Detroit is owned by Las Vegas casino powerhouse MGM Resorts International, Greektown is owned by major regional operator Penn National Gaming, and MotorCity is owned by the wealthy Ilitch family.
The three properties are Michigan’s only commercial casinos. There are also 23 tribal casinos that operate on the territory of the state. They all closed temporarily after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced earlier this month a ban on large gatherings, among other measures aiming to curb the spread of Covid-19 across the state and the rest of the country.
Detroit’s three casinos all opened retail sportsbooks just days before their shutdown. The launch of the facilities marked Michigan’s official entry into the US sports betting frenzy after Gov. Whitmer authorized the practice late last year.
A Difficult Decision
MGM Resorts International began companywide furloughs and workforce reductions from mid-March, citing the reduced demand due to the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. All of the company’s casino resorts across the US are now closed in the face of the unfolding health emergency.
In a letter to employees informing them about the looming furloughs and layoffs, MGM President Bill Hornbukle said that “these decisions are never made lightly” and that they “deeply regret the hardships” they will place on affected individuals and their families.
Penn National said this past Friday that it would place 26,000 workers on furlough throughout the coronavirus crisis and until its properties reopen. Aside from Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit, the company runs 40 other properties in 19 states, all of them closed.
Of its extended closure, MotorCity Casino said that the health and safety of its employees is their top priority and that they are hopeful “this temporary closure will have a positive impact on stemming the tide of Covid-19.”
Penn National said Friday that it has set up an emergency relief fund, which now has more than $1.2 million, to help affected workers and local relief organizations.
At MGM Grand Detroit, MGM has, too, set up an emergency relief fund and is understood to be in talks with other companies, including Amazon, to provide employees affected by the workforce cuts with temporary employment.
More than 140,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US, making it the country with the most confirmed cases. The dangerous infection has killed nearly 2,500 people since the first US case was reported.