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Detroit Casino Unions Urge Boycott of Online Sports Betting Sites Affiliated With Local Casinos

General View MGM Casino Detroit Michigan
General view showing the MGM Casino in Detroit, Michigan. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP

The Detroit Casino Council represents Detroit casino workers at the city’s major gambling venues, and they have asked the public to support them by boycotting the four online gaming platforms affiliated with three of the gambling venues located in Detroit, Michigan.

Applying the Squeeze

There is a casino workers strike in Detroit, and the union wants the gambling facilities with whom they are striking against to suffer financially until a resolution is negotiated. Therefore, the Detroit Casino Council (DCC) has decided to urge the public to avoid gambling with any of the sports betting or online casino platforms that are affiliated with those venues.

“Detroit’s casino workers sacrificed raises and shouldered heavier workloads so the industry could recover from the pandemic. In September 2020, workers agreed to a three-year contract extension with minimal wage increases to help the industry get back on its feet,” DCC said in a statement.

“Since then, Detroit casino workers have received only 3% raises, but inflation in Detroit has risen 20%. In contrast, industry gaming revenues have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels to reach a new record high.”

The DCC is comprised of a negotiating committee consisting of five unions including Unite Here Local 24, the UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. More than 3,700 casino workers are involved in the strike, running the gamut from table dealers to cleaning staff to food and beverage workers, and more.

The casinos affected by the strike are the FanDuel (Motor City Casino), ESPN Bet and Hollywood iCasino (Hollywood at Greek Town), and BetMGM (MGM Grand Detroit). It should be noted that other sports betting and online casino apps not affiliated with any of the aforementioned properties like Caesars Sportsbook, Caesars Palace Online Casino, WynnBET, DraftKings, Sports Illustrated Sportsbook, and others are not part of the boycott.

ESPN BET Targeted

The DCC began placing digital ads last week to argue their side of the story in Detroit’s first-ever casino strike. The unions are fighting for healthcare protection, wage adjustments to meet the rising cost of inflation, increased job security, and fair workloads.

“Online sports betting and online casino platforms like FanDuel, ESPN BET, and BetMGM are critical sources of revenue for the companies that operate Detroit’s three casinos,” said Nia Winston, President of UNITE HERE Local 24.

“Workers have been outside the physical locations 24/7 since going out on strike three weeks ago to win a fair contract. Now, they’re calling on the public not to cross their virtual picket line either, and to boycott these apps until the strike is settled.”

Bad Timing

And the timing couldn’t be worse for Penn Entertainment’s ESPN BET, as they recently launched in 17 states simultaneously, and one of them was in Michigan where they are partnered with the Hollywood at Greektown property, one of the three in Detroit involved in the strikes.

“Penn Entertainment is sinking $1.5 billion just for the rights to use the ESPN brand for its online sports betting platform, but they won’t invest in paying a fair wage at their Michigan casino, where workers are on strike,” said D. Taylor, President of UNITE HERE International Union.

The casino operators could end the strike today if they would agree to give workers the pay, benefits, and protections they deserve. The Detroit Casino Council is calling on sports fans to not use ESPN BET and other apps associated with the operators of the three struck casinos until the strike is over: ESPN Bet is a loser for Michigan if PENN won’t invest in our communities.”

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