Striking Detroit Casino Workers Call for Boycott of Online Casinos

Detroit’s striking casino workers are taking their fight online with a digital ad campaign urging a boycott of affiliated Michigan online casinos, specifically FanDuel, ESPN BET, Hollywood iCasino, and BetMGM.

On Friday, the Detroit Casino Council (DCC), representing workers at MotorCity, Hollywood at Greektown, and MGM Grand Detroit casinos, announced the digital solidarity campaign encouraging users to boycott the casinos’ affiliated online sites would kick off on Nov. 13.

Notably, the boycott ignores Caesars Palace Online Casino, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, WynnBet, and other unaffiliated platforms. ESPN BET, reportedly launching in Michigan later this week, wasn’t as lucky due to its deal with Hollywood Casino.

In a written statement, Nia Winston, president of UNITE HERE Local 24, asked for solidarity.

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.

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.

Detroit’s casino workers left the job on Oct. 17 after the three casino contracts expired. Nearly a month later, they’re asking the public to extend its support online to help end the strike and get people back to work.

Unions Escalate Casino Strike with Digital Picket

Negotiations between the DCC and the casinos began in early September, ahead of the contracts’ expiry dates.

Member unions include UNITE HERE Local 24, United Auto Workers, Teamster Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 32, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

Those unions, as represented by the DCC, seek:

  • Wage increases
  • A boost to retirement benefits
  • Protection for workers impacted by new technologies

Specifically, workers are seeking an inflation-matching 20% pay boost and better working conditions, particularly after “sacrificing raises and shouldering heavier workloads” during pandemic recovery.

However, despite negotiations, parties disagreed on new contract terms, and workers took to the picket line on Oct. 17. Almost a month later, the DCC is asking supporters to concentrate the pressure on operators by respecting the digital picket line too.

Notably, the DCC has secured Detroit City Council support for the strike, with council president Mary Sheffield urging operators to find a fair resolution.

Sheffield also joined the DCC to launch the #StrikeCity Donation Drive,” to jointly support strikers at Detroit casinos and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan.

Unfortunately, while MGM reached a deal last week with the culinary union to avoid a potential Las Vegas strike, a resolution seems a ways off in Detroit.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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