Three Detroit-based casinos are being forced to temporarily shut down their poker rooms following a significant labor strike involving 3,700 casino employees. These workers have walked out of their positions at three separate properties throughout the city.
Though the casinos—MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit, and Hollywood Casino in Greektown—will remain operative during this ongoing strike, poker room services have been suspended at both MotorCity and MGM Grand.
The Detroit Casino Council, a labor representative organization comprising five unions, backs the striking employees. The workforce on strike encompasses varied roles, including dealers, food and beverage workers, engineers, and more across the three properties.
The demand of the workers includes better healthcare amenities, higher wages, and a return to pre-pandemic staffing sizes. They’ve been negotiating these terms since September. The dialogue between them and the management reached a stalemate recently when the agreed three-year extension to the original five-year contract expired on Tuesday, ensuing in the strike.
The initial extension was made in the nascent days of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was when casinos were grappling with the mounting pressure to keep their doors open. However, the workers argue that the revenue has now bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, with the advent of iGaming across Michigan.
Citing the figures, the Casino Council highlighted that the Detroit casino industry generated a total of $2.27 billion in gaming revenue in 2022 and is well on its way to set a new record in 2023. Despite an increase of $813 million in total gaming revenues in 2022 compared to 2019, wages paid to workers represented by the DCC have seen a decrease of $34 million.
This strike marks the first of its kind in Detroit since the gaming industry’s expansion in Michigan in the late 1990s. However, similar labor tensions are rumbling in other parts of the country. For instance, in Las Vegas, 40,000 members of the Culinary Union authorized a strike in late September. The negotiations are ongoing, and the potential of a work stoppage at properties owned by MGM, Caesars, and Wynn persists.