November 19, 2021. Michigan will impose a new COVID – 19 regulation to temporarily close all Michigan casinos. The three currently operating casinos in Detroit will close for at least three days starting Tuesday, Nov. 19, to comply with the new state mandate. The new regulations were released in response to recent state budget problems. In addition to losing money in the long run, the closures will cause traffic and staffing challenges at all of the three Michigan casinos as crews work to get the properties back on track. The new CO VID rules are not affecting the casinos, which are located in Lake Michigan.
A final bit of news in the mix is that the revised CO VID rules do not affect live gaming except for minimum wage games. Although they were not impacted by the budget problem, live gaming at the three Michigan casinos has already ceased. As I said earlier, the new measure was released in response to recent budget shortfalls. Effectively, this means all Michigan casinos must close until new financing is found.
How are the Michigan casinos going to close? At the current time, all three have temporarily stopped gaming, but there is a chance the entire facility could be closed down sooner rather than later. According to information released by the Michigan Department of Financial Services, the last casino to go dark in Michigan is the Bellagio casino, which is now leased to an entity from Las Vegas, NV. The Bellagio’s owners filed for bankruptcy in July, leaving the door open to another potential tenant. The New York Times reported that the New York lender that owned the site is reviewing its remaining options and is expected to announce a decision by mid-September. If no one is picked, the casino business in Michigan is likely on the line.
The decision to shut down the Michigan casinos comes as the result of an influx of negative publicity regarding the losses and financial losses incurred at the shutters. One of the causes for the loss of funds at the Bellagio was the decision to move some of the slot machines to an area of the casino called the Big Bird space. This location proved to be less profitable and it was predicted that approximately $40 million would be lost annually. Some Michigan residents are not pleased with this turn of events and have accused the Gaming Commission of inadequately protecting the state’s tax payers. Even the gaming company is looking to place blame on the government for the financial problems it had to face.
When the closure of the Michigan casinos was announced, it also brought an immediate end to the live sports betting in Michigan. The state got no money from the settlement given by the owners of the Bellagio because they were not receiving enough in bonuses to cover the expenses associated with closing the site. The legislature recently passed a bill that allows the gambling companies to receive some of their expected profits from the Michigan Lottery and Casino. The purpose of the law is to stimulate the growth of the lottery in Michigan, which has lagged behind other states in recent years.
With the new legislation, the Michigan Indian will now be allowed to play at any of the casino owned or operated by the casino owner that is located in the county where the casino is located. This means that the new restrictions placed on the Bellagio will no longer restrict access to specific casinos owned by the Bellagio. In other words, anyone owning or operating a casino in the state of Michigan can now transfer their casino to someone else without worrying about penalties being imposed on them by the state. This is good news for the Michigan gambling community in Michigan and across the country.
According to the Gaming Commission, the move was made in part to “free market competition” between the Bellagio and the other Michigan casinos. For their part, the Michigan casinos feel that this is a clear shot at them, but the Michigan Indian’s attorney general is confident that his community will win the case in the coming years. The attorney general feels that free play at a casino is a violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Authority’s ban on “stacking” and “loaning” to other casinos. However, he did not release specifics, citing that it is still too early in the process to reach a concrete conclusion.
There are still a few holdouts in the Michigan Gaming Commission in terms of approving of free play at the Michigan casinos. But the long wait and the bad press may be worth it when it is all said and done in the next couple of months. For now though, the future looks as bright as the Strip at Las Vegas. For the gaming community, that means huge profits for years to come.