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


Vintage Saugatuck: 1860s-1950s

Jackson-Area Parks & Recreation: 1900-1960

Vintage Photos of Montrose

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