I found myself in Detroit for a work conference a couple of weeks ago, in early August. I’m not a big fan of events like these—the “rubber chicken circuit” as my salesman father used to call it—but they’re necessary for networking. Also, when the boss says go to a conference, you go.
This Detroit casino trip report covers my quick tour through Detroit’s three biggest venues. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I had enough to get a sense of what’s going on at each spot. I was able to play enough to form some preferences about where people should play and offer advice to other gamblers visiting Detroit, particularly slots fans.
My Take on Detroit
My trip to Detroit involved a long period of downtime, between a breakfast at my hotel that wrapped up at 8 AM and a late afternoon meeting that day at 4 PM. That meant I had eight hours on my hands— and I had the names of three Detroit casinos I wanted to check out burning a hole in my phone.
Luckily, I was staying not too far from the first casino I planned to visit, in a boutique hotel overlooking Grand Circus and Comerica Park. I found the walk similar to a walk in any big urban area; the parts closer to the waterfront are quite pretty. Other parts are a bit desolate, not dirty so much as empty and underappreciated.
Trip Report for MGM Grand Detroit
I’d done my research on this place, so I knew they had 2,800 slot and video poker games—about the same number as the other two venues on my list. I wasn’t going to lack for options in terms of my choice of games.
I also knew that the busiest hours at MGM Grand Detroit are between 9 PM and midnight, even on a Friday, which happened to be the day I visited. Walking in at 9 AM (I stopped for a quick breakfast snack at a local food truck, Detroit 75, very much recommend!), the place was very light on customers. That’s fine with me because it gave me an easier time reviewing my experience.
MGM Grand Detroit is the slickest casino in town, the only one that even tries to look like it belongs in Las Vegas. The word I’d use here is “modern,” down to the colors, carpets, and vaguely impressive art hanging everywhere. The employees are dressed sharply but again subtly modern. If that setting appeals to you, then you won’t find it anywhere but here in Detroit.
Non-smokers rejoice, there’s no indoor smoking at all, though the site offers an outdoor smoking area near the poker room, an area where you’ll also find some slot and video poker machines you can play as you have a cigar or cigarette.
The casino floor at the Detroit campus of the MGM Grand is about 1/6th the size of the Vegas property but has about the same number of machine games. The word that comes to mind is “cramped,” and if you’re not used to the packed floor style of slot gaming, you may feel a little claustrophobic.
I played slots and video poker for a couple of hours, nothing fantastic to report, and nothing too awful. I saw more than the normal number of out of operation games, which a casino employee chalked up to supply chain issues and underemployment in the gaming industry. I had quick drink service while playing, I loved the clean air (when you’re used to smoky rooms, even recycled air smells delicious), and I found plenty of games that held my attention.
I can only vouch for TAP, a burger joint that was willing to serve me lunch a little early, at 10:45, on my way out the door. I took some Short Rib Chili to go with a Hangover burger and planned to enjoy it at a park or something along the way.
My food was delicious, and it came with a couple extra napkins and trimmings that made it an easy on-the-go lunch. I didn’t pass anything really resembling a good spot to eat.
So, I walked about a block off my trail to Library Park, and ate in front of Skillman Library, a beautiful Italian Renaissance style edifice constructed around the time of World War One. Lots of good people walking close to the noon hour, and the temp never got above 82 degrees, with so little humidity I had to pinch myself.
Walking up to the Greektown Casino-Hotel means walking right through the heart of historic Greektown, at the dead center of a triangle formed by major city landmarks Renaissance Center, Ford Field, and Comerica Park.
By the 1920s, this part of town was almost exclusively populated by Greek immigrant families. Known for the heavy presence of Greek-influenced shops and restaurants, it’s now an entertainment hub for Detroit, anchored by the Greektown Casino-Hotel complex.
The word I’d use to describe the casino here is “festive.” Where MGM Grand is dark and sleek, Greektown is bright and classic. The long and classic-styled front of the building reflects the architecture of the area, a nice trick that gives the whole area a stately feel. This continues all the way to the gaming floor.
How was my slots play at Greektown? About the same as MGM Grand. All three of Detroit’s casinos have about the same number and variety of slots, and (lacking any real information about the relative volatility of specific slot games) your choice in terms of what slot to play is really only about personal preference.
Greektown has five restaurants on-site, though none of them are particularly Greek, which I find odd. There’s Basil Leaf Pizza, with a Mediterranean flavor, and the flagship Prism restaurant has a pseudo-Greek menu. But I was looking for typical American-Greek stuff, gyros and shawarma, which wasn’t available.
I bounced out of Greektown Casino right at the 1 o’ clock hour, having lost a little, won a tiny bit more, and with the knowledge that I had a good half-hour hike ahead of me.
Trip Report for MotorCity Casino
The walk from Greektown to MotorCity was the worst part of my trip.
Besides a walk right by my hotel and around Grand Circus, the sights were a little dreary, and the company a bit on the seedier side, but it just wasn’t the most pleasant journey.
Plus, I should’ve taken an Uber or something. 30 minutes of city walking is intense, and by the time I got to MotorCity Casino Hotel around 1:40, I was a little warm.
Still, it’s August, and I can forgive Detroit for having the same problems of every other big American city.
The word that comes to mind when I think back on my MotorCity experience is “flashy.” This is a place grounded in Detroit, and not the modern crumbling infrastructure, but the Golden Age of Motor City. From the billion-dollar campus to the Chip Foose-designed everything, it’s meant to be an homage to a time when Detroit was a global city.
Though the gaming floor here is more than three times the size of the floors at the city’s other two sites, it isn’t home to any more or less slot and video poker games. The result is a less cramped experience, more room for the casino to use design elements to impress and attract gamblers, and an even thinner crowd than I found at the city’s other two gaming spots.
If I were to return to play in Detroit, I’d probably start right at MotorCity.
There’s no gambling in Detroit proper outside of the three casinos I made my whirlwind daytime tour through. If you’re coming to Detroit and you want some casino play time, you’ll need to do it at one of the spots I visited and reviewed.
Hopefully, I’ve shared some details and information that help you make a decision about where to play in the Motor City.