MGM Engaged in Meetings with Detroit Casino Workers as Unions Threaten Strike



  • Five unions of Detroit casino workers have voted convincingly to authorize a strike if they are unable to negotiate a new contract by October 16.
  • The unions, represented by the Detroit Casino Council, comprise workers from MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood Casino at Greektown and MotorCity Casino.
  • MGM Grand Detroit has reported that it was having productive meetings with the unions and believes a new contract deal will be reached.

Detroit casinos are having a bad start to the month of October as their workers have immediately threatened industrial action if their demands are not met. Composed of MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown, Detroit casinos are the largest non-tribal contributors to gambling revenue in the state. So, a strike action from the casino workers is expected to trigger poor financial output from the retail casino outlets.

However, MGM Grand Detroit is providing a beacon of hope. The casino management mentioned that it was meeting with casino worker unions and remains confident their demands would be met swiftly.

Five Unions of Detroit Casino Workers Authorize October 16 for Industrial Action

On Friday, September 29, five unions voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike actions for their members if casinos do not agree to a new contract by October 16. The unions which took part in this vote are as follows:

  • UNITE HERE Local 24
  • Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Teamsters Local 1038
  • UAW
  • Operating Engineers Local 234

All of the five unions have agreed that the Detroit Casino Council represents them in negotiations with the three retail casino brands in the city. According to reports, 99% of the workers voted “yes” to an industrial action, citing wage increases, retirement security and job protection as reasons for the impending strike.

Nia Winston, President of UNITE HERE Local 24 explained details of the strike action in a press release.

“Workers are fed up in an economy that is broken. Costs keep going up, but when profits came back to the gaming industry, they didn’t go into workers’ pockets. Just like auto workers, Blue Cross Blue Shield staff, UPS workers, writers and hotel workers, Detroit casino workers are considering all options available to make sure one job in a Detroit casino is enough to raise a family on. We expect the casinos to heed our concerns to avoid a strike,” Winston said.

Union leaders remarked that the entire Detroit casino industry recorded $2.27 billion from retail and online gambling in 2022. However, despite being the highest ever revenue recorded in the industry’s history, working conditions have failed to change.

MGM Grand Detroit Reports Productive Meetings with Detroit Casino Council

Special attention has been on MGM Grand Detroit as the casino has swiftly engaged stakeholders, hoping to stop the impending strike. There has been focus on MGM itself as union leaders mentioned that the casino saw an all-time record company-wide revenue in Q2 2023.

MGM Grand Detroit is the operator of BetMGM Online Casino and Sportsbook which has generated higher gross profits than it did in pre-pandemic years. The same goes for PENN Entertainment and Hollywood Casino at Greektown, its retail casino subsidiary.

“The strike authorization sends a clear message to the Detroit casino cartel that our members are the ones who created massive profits for these corporations, and it’s time to share the wealth. Teamsters and the labor movement are united. Our members will get a contract that rewards their hard work, or we will withhold our labor,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien.

However, MGM Resorts International, the owners of MGM Grand Detroit believe that a new deal will be reached soon.

When asked to comment on the situation, Dara Cohen, the Director of Corporate Communications at MGM Resorts International noted that productive meetings are ongoing. 
“MGM Resorts has a long history of bargaining successfully with the Detroit Casino Council. We continue to have productive meetings with the union and believe both parties are committed to negotiating a contract that is good for everyone,” said Cohen.

Detroit Casinos Yet to Hit Revenue Threshold from Pre-Pandemic Years

One of the major claims from labor leaders is that Detroit casinos have hit higher revenues than in previous years. However, in truth, Detroit casino revenue, excluding online gambling receipts, is yet to get back to pre-pandemic levels. Through the first eight months of 2023, Detroit retail casinos have only managed to generate $853.7 million. This figure is 12.4% lower than the $974.3 million revenue recorded in 2019.

Nevertheless, the casinos are recovering fine and online revenue figures have contributed significantly to a financial boom among Detroit casinos. Gamble Online Michigan will be following the news and providing updates about the strike as the story develops in coming days.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments