Michigan’s Old Casinos Weren’t What You’re Led To Believe
I'll tell ya right off the bat: for most people under thirty, a "casino" is where you go to gamble, play slot machines, lose money, make a few bucks then lose it all, etc.
But back in the 20th Century, the word 'casino' meant something entirely different. Other terms used for a casino were pavilion, dance hall, music hall, club house, honky-tonk, roadhouse, ballroom, auditorium, concert hall, and amphitheater. In other words, you went there to hear live bands and dance.
Throughout the decades all the greats played at Michigan casinos: Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Four Seasons, the Dorsey Brothers, Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin.....you name the performer, they were probably in a Michigan 'casino' anywhere from the 1920s thru the 1970s.
Then things started to change in Michigan as far as gambling laws.
1933: Horserace betting is allowed
1972: State lottery is passed
1984: The first Indian casino opens in Keweenaw Bay
1993: Chippewa tribe signs contract with Michigan and opens Soaring Eagle
1996: The first 'Mega-Million' lottery ticket was sold
1997: The Michigan Gaming Control & Revenue Act is signed into law
1997: Three casinos open in Detroit
From there, Michigan acquired a total of 26 casinos...a place where blue-haired little old ladies play the slots and blow their Social Security checks.
Quite a far cry from the dance hall casinos of the early 1900s.
The photo gallery below does NOT depict Michigan's gambling casinos; rather, a small collection of the original dance hall casinos that permeated the state in the early part of the 20th Century.
Michigan's Old Casinos Aren't What You Think