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Fewer games, more plexiglass and no smoking -- a look inside MGM Grand Detroit

MGM Resorts rolls out new coronavirus safety protocols

DETROIT – Despite not having a set date for reopening Detroit’s MGM Grand Casino and Hotel staff have been working to ready gaming tables, machines, restaurant and protocols to be ready to open as soon as given the go ahead from state authorities, the entertainment company’s Midwest president said during a tour Thursday morning.

UPDATE -- June 25, 2020: Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 62,306, Death toll now at 5,886

From the start staff and guests entering the building will have their temperatures screened using infrared imaging as MGM branded social distancing decals lined the floors. Guests will be expected to weave through a series of airport style rope lanes in order to enter the building while minimizing risk.

Once on the floor, mitigation measures were everywhere. The majority of slot and video machines were not operating and no longer had chairs in front of them. The seats left were socially distant often only two to a row. According to MGM Midwest COO and President David Tsai, only 40 percent of slot machines will be left running. Overall the casino will only allow 15 percent of the normal capacity, the lowest threshold of any industry in the state.

“We’re making sure health and safety are placed as a priority above any potential revenue generation,” Tsai said.

Table games, like poker, blackjack or craps were also heavily regulated. Nearly every other table was closed, and plexiglass was up at those that were available. Dice and chips will be sanitized regularly, just in case anyone feels the need to blow for good luck. Tsai assured none of the game play for any of their games would be affected.

Tsai also said they were planning on having hand sanitizer strategically placed around the casino along with a standalone hand washing station which the casino paid to connect to the existing plumbing available for guests. He also said staff would be trained on how to make sure guests were following the new guidelines saying casino staff and security were no strangers to dealing with “sensitive situations.”

Among those new guidelines are required masks, which will be available for guests who don’t bring one. Smoking will also be prohibited, which Tsai conceded could be a point of contention for guests who may have left their Canadian gambling spots when Windsor also outlawed smoking. Tsai said, however, it didn’t make sense for guests to be required to wear masks but then be allowed to remove those masks to smoke indoors.

At points of interaction, like guest services, the cage or sports betting, still more plexiglass was put up. Restaurants also shifted to QR coded menus along with socially distant dining rooms.

All of it is costing MGM, and by way of tax dollars, the City of Detroit and the state, millions of dollars. Last year the casino posted a record $1.45 billion dollars in revenue or roughly $4 million a day.

So far, casinos are not on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s list of businesses ready to reopen. She said earlier this week casinos would not reopen with the next phase around the 4th of July. Tsai, who has been with MGM for 13 years said he oversaw the reopening of other casinos in Ohio just last week. He said

“We have Detroit residents currently going to Michigan tribal casinos or casinos in Ohio and Indiana that don’t have the level of requirements that we have,” he said.

The hotel will not be ready to open whenever the casino is allowed to open its doors. Tsai said it would likely be another month after the open date before guests could stay overnight.

Anyone who believes they might have coronavirus should follow the CDC guidelines. Michigan.gov has a list of resources available to those concerned about COVID-19.

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