Michigan will not be getting historical horse racing in the near future after the House of Representatives did not pass SB 0661 for the second consecutive year.
The bill would have allowed racetracks and some land-based casinos to install historical pari-mutuel betting terminals where players can wager on horse races that have already taken place. But the machines do not show information such as when the race took place, and the horses’ names, so results can’t be remembered or researched by the player betting on the race.
Earlier in December, the historical horse racing bill passed through the Michigan Ways and Means Committee after three amendments were added to it.
House Bill 6462 amended the Lawful Sports Betting Act and revised the allocation of taxes imposed under the act. With this bill, 5% of tax revenue would have been redirected from the Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Under House Bill 6463, the Lawful Internet Gaming Act would have amended to revise a citation in the Michigan Gaming Control Revenue Act in regard to the renumbering of provisions that would be made by House Bill 6464.
House Bill 6464 likely would have increased simulcast wagering revenues with Detroit casinos being able to have more opportunities to offer simulcast wagering to their patrons. Under House Bill 6464, Section 9B of the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act would have been repealed. Section 9B prohibits a person with a casino license from televising or allowing any other person to televise simulcast horse races on the premises of a casino.
But these amendments were not enough to convince the House to pursue passing the historical horse racing bill.
What’s next for HHR and Michigan’s tracks?
Michigan has one active horse racing track. Northville Downs is located near Detroit and was one of the many businesses struggling with the pandemic closures.
AmRace & Sports LLC was in discussions to bring back Sports Creek Raceway, but only if historical horse racing became legalized in the state. That deal likely means reviving the track will be put on hold.
In November, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) denied Sports Creek Raceway its permits for live horse racing and simulcasting at the facility. The MGCB stated the track owner’s application lacked the necessary information.
Northville Downs announced in November it plans to schedule 54 days of live pari-mutuel horse racing on Fridays and Saturdays throughout 2021. The track has received permission from the MGCB to simulcast races to and from the venue throughout next year, except for April 4, Nov. 24-25 and Dec. 25.
“It has been a challenging year for live horse racing, and we hope the 2021 season will go well,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director, in a news release. “The added option of mobile betting approved this year provides extra support for Michigan’s horse racing industry and may draw new fans to the sport.”