5 Interesting Facts About the MGM Grand in Detroit

Detroit State Flag With the MGM Grand Detroit

Most people don’t think of Michigan as a place with Las-Vegas-sized resort casinos. But as of today, Michigan has opened 23 tribal casinos, three commercial casinos, and two horse racing tracks.

The MGM Grand Detroit is easily the leader of the pack. On July 29th, 1999, the MGM Grand opened its doors to the public. Below, you’ll learn more about this establishment and why you should make sure to visit it when you’re in town.

Here are five cool facts about the history of gambling in Michigan and how the MGM Grand Detroit came to be.

1 – Gambling Makes Its Way Into Michigan

The MGM Grand makes up one of the three major hotels and casinos in Detroit. It’s also one of the four casinos that have legalized sports betting as of December 2019.

Interestingly enough, Michigan has been fighting a long legal battle to legalize mobile sports betting since 2015. Four years later, lawmakers finally got on board, making sports betting legal in Michigan.

Frequent gamblers can now play all of their favorite games from the comfort of their own home. Obviously, gambling in person is a more exciting experience. But sometimes, especially in the middle of a hectic workweek, gambling at home from your phone is the only practical way to go.

But take note, Detroit did not see their first sportsbook until March 2020.

2 – Interesting Laws and Groundwork for Casino Owners

The Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act of 1996 authorized casinos to be able to operate in three specific locations on non-tribal land in Detroit. Michigan has a large amount of Native American casinos, so it’s important for lawmakers to be respectful of their needs.

Just across the river from Michigan, the province of Ontario opened up a casino that Michigan locals would visit. This was back in the mid-‘90s. Ontario has several operating casinos today, and their existence is probably the single largest driving force behind casinos coming to Michigan.

In 2005, several years after the MGM Grand opened its doors, the casino was bought out by its parent company, MGM Mirage. The MGM Mirage announced that it would be purchasing their rival company, Mandalay Resort Group.

View of Detroit City's Skyline

The MGM Mirage also owned MotorCity Casino, and the issue with that was that the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act prohibited casino owners from being able to own more than one casino inside Michigan state lines.

MGM Mirage was subject to a pretty difficult choice, being ultimately forced to either sell the MGM Grand in Detroit or sell the MotorCity casino.

After some pretty big players in the industry gave significant offers to MGM Mirage for the purchase of the MGM Grand, the casino eventually turned down the offers and ended up selling the MotorCity Casino to the philanthropist Marian Ilitch.

As of today, Marian Ilitch is one of the top seven most wealthy women alive today, according to Bloomberg.

3 – The MGM Grand Expands Exponentially

On December 13th, 2005, the Michigan Gaming Control Board approved the plan proposed by MGM Grand to upgrade to a permanent location that would include 100,000 square feet of floor space, 401 hotel rooms, and an eight-story self-parking garage for the convenience of hotel and casino guests.

The new facility also had 30,000 square feet of meeting space for business functions and musical performances. The new and permanent casino would open doors to its permanent location on October 3rd, 2007.

The MGM Grand in Detroit has held some pretty impressive poker tournaments since its opening, and it sits across the street from the DTE Energy Headquarters. The Headquarters has some beautiful landscape, as well as a well-lit pool that guests of the MGM Grand can see from some of the higher-quality rooms and can enjoy during a nighttime stroll.

The chief architects for the MGM Grand reopening were Paul Tonti of the SmithGroup and Thomas Sherry of Hamilton Anderson Associates.

The DTE Energy Headquarters followed suit after the casino reopened at its permanent location and announced a pretty extensive series of updates. This included an urban oasis with parks and walkways, as well as the lit-up reflecting pool I previously mentioned.

There are a lot of nearby businesses and sights to see that give guests plenty to do after spending their days at the tables or playing real money slots. This is especially important for families who are visiting the casino and have kids who need to get out of the hotel room when they’ve been cooped up in all day as the adults spend their time gaming.

Sometimes, it’s just nice to take a break and explore some of the sights, especially with how beautiful the surrounding area is and how perfect it is for a nice leisurely stroll through the park close to the casino.

MGM Grand Detroit Slot Machines

Across the river, Caesars Windsor, a competing casino and hotel, attracts about 6 million visitors a year. Over 15 million people a year cross the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, a toll bridge that links Caesars Ontario with Detroit Michigan. A recent study showed that 46 million people live in a 300-mile radius from Windsor and Detroit.

The MGM Grand couldn’t be placed better geographically, and the consistent business from tourists and gamblers and the incredible popularity of the casino definitely proves this.

4 – Inside the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel and Casino

If you’ve visited Detroit (which is an amazing town worth checking out regardless of whether you gamble or not), then you’ve probably heard the constant buzz around town about how amazing the opulent $800 million resort casino really is.

MGM Resorts International has created a huge name for themselves in the area, and the MGM Grand Detroit couldn’t have a better gambling firm running the show.

A cool fact worth noting is that the MGM Grand Detroit is actually the first ever Las Vegas-style destination to be opened in a major metropolitan area besides what’s on the Strip and what’s in Downtown Las Vegas.

If you like to play machines, then you’ll be happy to know that there are over 4,000 of the latest styles of slots and video poker games.

Not only are there over 4,000 virtual games available, but there are also 90 different table games to choose from. If you like roulette, blackjack, or even Texas Hold’em, then you’ll be happy to know that those games are played every day at MGM Grand Detroit, as well as many more.

And not only do you have the first Las-Vegas-style resort casino in a major metropolitan area, but you also have the unrivaled luxury of the rooms and suites that are available. Some of the world’s most famous chefs operate inside the MGM Grand, and it also has the only resort-style spa in Southeast Michigan.

As of today, MGM Grand Detroit is the ultimate hotel and entertainment destination, and is one of the best casinos in Michigan. With approximately 3,000 employees, it’s become one of the top employers in the area.

5 – More Specific Highlights

I touched on what the casino floor looks like, but there is a whole lot more worth mentioning. One cool feature that people seem to love is the Axis Lounge.

It’s a super hip and modern club that makes for an entertaining and energizing night after you’ve spent the day at the tables. This is definitely a place you’ll want to make time for if you’re the type of person that can let loose and enjoy a cocktail or two.

Axis Lounge in MGM Grand Detroit

You count on local music at Axis Lounge, ranging anywhere from jazz to modern-day pop music. Another signature feature of the MGM Grand Detroit is the Wolfgang Puck steakhouse.

With some of the restrictions and guidelines that are in place, Wolfgang Puck isn’t currently open. Regardless, it’s worth mentioning for the day where it will again open its doors to the public.

The celebrated Master Chef Wolfgang Puck has literally perfected the art of grilling steak, offering a vast and abundant array of grilled steaks, as well as a selection of meat, shellfish, and roasted whole fresh fish, and a beautiful selection of sauces and side dishes.


There is so much more worth exploring in the MGM Grand Detroit casino and hotel. Hopefully, you will feel inspired to do your own research and maybe even plan your next vacation there.

If there’s more cool stuff about the MGM Grand Detroit casino and hotel that you know about, or if you’ve visited before and have an experience worth sharing, please feel free to drop a comment down in the section below.