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MGM Grand Detroit

Last edit: detroit1051 on Tuesday, 9th April 2013 5:49 pm
Last response by socalduck 22nd September 11:44am

Since I'm in Greater Detroit for a while, I called a friend and suggested we meet at MGM Grand Detroit for dinner at one of Wolgang Puck's two new restaurants. Wolfgang Puck STEAK and Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina replaced Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak and SaltWater.

We went for the Pizzeria & Cucina which is in the former SaltWater. SaltWater was one of the most beautiful dining rooms in any city. Alas, it was too upscale for the Detroit market, especially in a casino. The "bones" are still good, but there is a decidedly downscale appearance. Although the Italian mosaic ceiling with the Edison lightbulbs still inspire awe, and the plaster relief walls are intact, gone are the elegant chairs, linens and raw bar. Instead, a more casual room. Judging by one Sunday evening, business is noticeaby brisker with the new menu and lower prices. Keri, the bartender whom I first met at the Hollywood Brown Derby in the old temporary casino years ago, still makes terrific drinks. The meals were excellent, and although the room still faces the casino through a floor to ceiling glass wall, it felt quite removed from the smoky casino floor. At least, there is no smoking in restaurants. Before I move on to the casino, here is a link to the restaurants: Wolfgang Puck restaurants

The permanent casino/hotel opened almost seven years ago. and is the best (and does the most business) of the three casinos in the city. However, this time, I thought it was beginning to look tired. The casino has too many dark colors without a colorful "casino carpet" to brighten the place. This trip, the smoke was overwhelming to me. The casino floor is large with many tables as well as slots. Whie staying in Detroit, I've seen many TV ads for the new Hollywood Casino Toledo which is only 75 miles south of Detroit. It looks so much brighter than MGM in the commercials with lots of reds and cheerful colors. And, to an ex-smoker like me, the non-smoking law in Ohio is appealing.

MGM Grand Detroit is one of MGM's most profitable properties. What adds to that profitability is the fact that they do not comp alcohol to anyone, even high rollers. When the Detroit casino legslation was first passed, comped drinks were prohibited. That law was changed some years ago, but MGM obviously wants the revenue. Even though my friend got a comp for our food Sunday, drinks and wine were not comped. The bill for drinks, tax and tip exceeded the amount of the comp.

All in all, I still like MGM Grand Detroit, but it's tme for a facelift and a reconsideration of the drink policy.


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 Adrian responded on Wednesday, 10th April 2013

Sorry to hijack your topic, but I'm curious what you think about Dan Gilbert's purchase of Greektown Casino. He seems to be making a pretty big play into the gaming business, first with the 2 Ohio casinos, the Baltimore one, and now, Greektown. I'm also curious if Cesars, his partner for the 2 Ohio casinos will have anything to do with Greektown, since it (kind of) competes with Cesars Windsor. I'm guessing if Ceasars gets involved with Greektown, that will help them capture more of the market, and maybe even move them up from a distant 3rd.

 detroit1051 replied on Wednesday, 10th April 2013

Dan Gilbert is making a huge difference in downtown Detroit, and he will turn Greektown Casino fron an also-ran into a viable property. Windsor, Ontario is already concerned about the future of Caesars Windsor because of Gilbert's relationship with Caesars. This story was in the Winsor Star recently: Caesars Windsor

 StudiodeKadent responded on Wednesday, 10th April 2013

EXCELLENT WRITE UP!!!

I especially found this part interesting:

"MGM Grand Detroit is one of MGM's most profitable properties. What adds to that profitability is the fact that they do not comp alcohol to anyone, even high rollers. When the Detroit casino legslation was first passed, comped drinks were prohibited. That law was changed some years ago, but MGM obviously wants the revenue. Even though my friend got a comp for our food Sunday, drinks and wine were not comped. The bill for drinks, tax and tip exceeded the amount of the comp..."

"All in all, I still like MGM Grand Detroit, but it's tme for a facelift and a reconsideration of the drink policy..."

In my Macau trip report I noted that MGM Macau doesn't serve alcoholic drinks for free unless you're playing at the HKD1000+ per hand level. Wynn on the other hand will comp alcohol at the HKD300+ level at least. Some were wondering if the situations between MGM Macau and MGM Detroit were comparable.

MGM's been losing money for a while so obviously they want to keep their profit margins as fat as they can at the profitable properties. Also, whilst it isn't illegal for the MGM to comp drinks in Michigan it is possible that comping drinks wouldn't bring in much more business anyway (afterall, there are only three casinos in Detroit and the MGM sounds very busy... maybe they're already at capacity and so comping drinks wouldn't be worth it?). And are the competition serving comped alcohol? And additionally, if my "capacity" argument is correct, the government/city might receive more tax money if the MGM doesn't comp drinks! (plus, taxes on liquor sales...).

Another possibility is labor costs. Hiring a worker in Michigan is, I'd expect, significantly more expensive than hiring one in Nevada. BUT if MGM Detroit already has drink waitresses serving non-alcoholic drinks than this clearly isn't the reason why.

Maybe Michigan's alcohol licensing rules have some esoteric bureaucratic tripe which would make it too expensive for the MGM Grand Detroit to comp drinks, or something?

But yeah, in Macau there is no excuse for the lack of comp alcohol for less-than-1000HKD players.

Additional question: Did you check the blackjack conditions?

 detroit1051 replied on Wednesday, 10th April 2013

I suspct you're right that MGM Grand is already near full capacity, and with only two other casinos in the city, they likely believe the added expense of drinks wouldn't attract enough new business. Sorry, I didn't check blackjack this trip.

 ditkartr replied on Thursday, 11th April 2013

The Blackjack conditions aren't bad. Now I only play 15 to 25 usually. They have 2 sections, party pit 6-5 unless red light happy hour then 3-2. The other section is 3-2 and has tables that run up to 100 min. I'm sure more at peak times but I only go during the week. As per the other player friendly rules I'm not 100% since its the only option I look for 3-2 and go from there. I have not seen single or double deck though, just 6-8 deck shoes.

 Blakjackkid responded on Wednesday, 10th April 2013

The no drink comps policy is interesting to me in the sense that I always thought casinos comped drinks to gamblers while gambling to get them to gamble more (ie to make them more reckless and lose track of how much they're winning or losing). Do you know if the MGM used to comp at one point and then decided to stop because they felt they weren't getting increased gaming revenues? TIA

 detroit1051 replied on Wednesday, 10th April 2013

No, when casinos were approved in the 1990's, Michigan liquor laws prohibited free drinks. When the law was changed some time ago, only Greektown opted to offer comped drinks, and only to high rollers. MGM Detroit has 40%+ market share, so they probably aren't worried about people like me complaining. Here's a link to the Michigan Gaming Board site on the topic:
Comped Drinks

Seems like more and more casinos have self-serve soft drinks. I like that. MGM Detroit and MotorCity have the dispensers as does Isle Pompano near my home

 socalduck responded on Monday, 22nd September 2014

I just returned from a three-night stay at the MGM, but rather than start a new thread, I figured I would add to Detroit1051's great review.

The hotel portion is still quite good. My corner suite (which is really just a large room with a partial-height divider between the living room and bedroom) was very well-equipped, with a nice guest bath, separate seating area, wet bar, two large LCD televisions, and large bathroom with jacuzzi tub and big shower with rain head and wall-mounted shower heads. Excellent maid service and evening turndown. Service was similar to what you can expect as an Aria or Bellagio resort guest. Overall, the hotel portion of the property is quite good, and while it can be expensive, I would not hesitate to recommend it.

As for the casino, Detroit's comments that it is looking a bit tired are spot-on. Not worn out or dirty, everything appeared to be clean and well-maintained, but the overall decor and ambiance was sorta meh. The big center bar in the middle of the casino has been closed and the space is completely walled off. Not sure if they plan on putting something new in that space (I would certainly hope so!), but for now there is a giant, circular white wall that dominates the center of the casino. The cigarette smoke is pretty thick, despite this being a relatively new property. I thought Michigan had a ban on indoor smoking, so I'm not sure what loophole MGM used to gain an exception, but it was not pleasant.

In terms of gambling, I played some craps and walked away with a nice chunk of change, but the overall atmosphere was a bit grim. It was a crowded table, and except for the three dark-siders, everyone was making money, but there was very little cheering or banter from the players. The dealers were great, though. There were four tables operating, three at $15 minimum and one at $25. I did not play BJ, but all the tables I saw were $25 or higher. There could be lower-limit tables, but I didn't see them.

This was a mid-week stay, and some of the nightclubs and lounges were closed, so perhaps the atmosphere improves during the weekend. I did eat at STEAK, which was very good, but pricey. TAP, the sports-themed eatery, serves as the general-purpose eatery for the hotel. Food was good, but nothing really special. Service was good at both STEAK and TAP.

Based on previous visits to this property, I expect I will get some generous offers back through MLife. However, unless you are already planning to be in the Detroit area, I would not make a special trip just to visit the MGM Grand. Save those comp points for Vegas; you will have more fun there.