After passing in the Senate nearly a year ago, historical horse race betting is now a step closer to becoming a reality in Michigan.
SB 661, with updated language, passed through the Michigan Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday. The historical horse racing (HHR) bill received nine yes votes and just one no vote.
Committee chair Brandt Iden has been instrumental in progressing S 661 after it was dormant in the House. The legislation was originally slated in the package of gaming bills passed in Michigan last December but was pulled after casinos throughout the state opposed it.
Iden has been one of the central figures in Michigan’s progressive gaming movement. With his pedigree and experience, he was an ideal fit to work out a compromise with the opposed casinos in regard to HHR.
Three separate bills, House Bills 6462, 6463 and 6464 were introduced by Iden to make amendments to the HHR bill. The three bills are tie-barred to each other, meaning the bill cannot take effect unless every bill to which it is tied to is also enacted.
House Bill 6462 amends the Lawful Sports Betting Act and revises the allocation of the taxes imposed under the act. With this bill, 5% of tax revenue would be redirected from the Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Under House Bill 6463, the Lawful Internet Gaming Act would be amended to revise a citation in the Michigan Gaming Control Revenue Act in regard to a renumbering of provisions that would be made by House Bill 6464.
House Bill 6464 repeals section 9B of the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act. Section 9B prohibits a person who holds a casino license from televising or allowing any other person to televise simulcast horse races on the premises of a casino. This bill removes that prohibition. It is likely that House Bill 6464 would increase simulcast wagering revenues with Detroit casinos now able to have more opportunities to offer simulcast wagering to their patrons.
HHR may give a future to horse racing. The industry has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and HHR may be able to introduce new fans to live racing. Those in support of the bill believe people who come for the HHR may become naturally interested in the live races taking place at the track.
Proponents also predict the industries that go into making horse racing possible will be able to flourish with the influx of fans from HHR, including county fairs, farmers, breeders, truck drivers, veterinarians, trainers, stable hands and more. Overall, those for the bill are hopeful HHR can give new life to the sport in Michigan.