The REEF Detroit Becomes Michigan’s Pioneer Cannabis Dispensing Casino

Jessica Aletor
By:
Jessica Aletor
05/05/2023/
News
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Highlights

  • A local Detroit business, The REEF, is set to combine its cannabis dispensary services with casino gaming.
  • Spokespersons of the business believe The REEF is the first ever cannabis casino in Michigan and the United States.
  • Elsewhere in Brimley, Bay Mills Community is permanently closing the Kings Club Casino building in the township.

Since 2019, recreational marijuana has been legal in Michigan for users aged 21 and above. However, consumption has largely been limited to private residences, with no rules expressly permitting cannabis lounges in public places. But all that may be changing soon as businesses are taking a bold step to combine casino gaming and cannabis dispensary.

One of such businesses is The REEF Detroit, a locally owned adult-use cannabis dispensary and lounge. With legal marijuana expected to top $1.7 billion in 2024 and casinos worth almost the same in Michigan, The REEF is hoping to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Detroit’s The REEF May Be First of Its Kind in the US

The REEF opened for operations in 2014 and mainly sold medical marijuana to Detroit residents until the introduction of a bill to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2018. As soon as state-licensed recreational cannabis came into effect the year after, The REEF offered its product within those terms.

Located at 6640 on Detroit’s 8-Mile Road, The REEF is situated in a choice location spanning 5,000 square feet. It also owns a store in Muskegon and plans to add more dispensaries and lounges in Detroit.

It began experimenting with casino gaming in 2022 when Dort Hwy Dispo, another dispensary in Burton introduced casino-style games. Dort Dispo and The REEF began a collaborative effort to allow casino wagering with tokens at their dispensaries. The Michigan Gaming Control Board requires a license before any business can operate a casino with real-money gambling. 

According to Tim Campbell, spokesman of The REEF, 

“This is definitely not gambling. Because if you win, you get a pull on the wheel of fortune, or a throw on the craps table. You play with store credit and you win store credit.”

Instead of real money, players win store credit redeemable with marijuana. However, plans are underway to launch actual money wagering with a license from the MGCB. Until then, Tim Campbell believes The REEF remains the first in the country to run casino gaming and cannabis dispensaries side-by-side.

Cannabis Casino Presents Unique Selling Point for The REEF

One of the main strategies of The REEF is its aggressive marketing. The business has launched multiple promotions to attract customers. In 2022, it started a scratch-off promo that rewarded customers with vacations and cash prizes up to $100,000. The winner also walked home with free cannabis supply for a lifetime.

Now, a new selling point is arising for the business. The REEF dispensary includes slot machines, a blackjack table, a Plinko machine and tables for roulette and craps. Should the business continue with plans for real money wagering, it may offer one of the most unique promotions for customers, fusing two fast rising businesses into one. 

Bay Mills Indian Community Permanently Closes Kings Club Casino

As The REEF opens its doors to newer prospects, some 300 miles away, the Kings Club Casino has been permanently closed. Owned by the Bay Mills Indian Community, operators of DraftKings Casino MI, the Kings Club Casino has been locked since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many customers have believed the casino will open soon but as recently confirmed by Bay Mills, the building will never see its doors open again.

However, unlike most closures, this one is good-intentioned and not borne out of difficulties. The tribe owners believe that the closure will divert the audience to its larger and more prestigious Bay Mills Resort & Casino some two miles away.

“Kings Club is permanently closed. We are operating out of the single location of Bay Mills Resort & Casino and are getting ready for a hotel expansion which we hope to complete in two years,” said Michael Thomas, Bay Mills Resort & Casino Marketing Director. “It made the most sense, given extra costs and smaller available work force in our area, to concentrate our efforts on a single location.”

Kings Club Casino was opened in 1984 and formed part of the Bay Mills Blackjack Casino in Brimley. It featured about 280 slot machines and blackjack tables, making it the first Native American tribal casino to have other games besides bingo.

Bay Mills will now focus on its ongoing $65 million expansion project that is due for completion in 2024. The new Bay Mills Resort & Casino will include a spa, nail salon, pool with splash pad, conference rooms, arcade and 134 additional rooms. 

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, casino.zone and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments