Michigan horse racing fans will have something to look forward to in 2021, especially since mobile horse racing betting is now possible.
Under an order issued by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Northville Downs will host 54 days of live pari-mutuel horse racing on Fridays and Saturdays in 2021. Northville Downs is also permitted to simulcast races to and from the track and conduct simulcast pari-mutuel wagering throughout 2021 with exceptions on April 4, Nov. 25, Dec. 24 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. “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.”
The 2021 live standardbred horse racing season with pari-mutuel wagering will be split into two segments: March 19 through June 26 and Oct. 1 through Dec. 28.
This year’s live racing season in Michigan is set to end on Dec. 12. The season was delayed from its original start date of March 20 to Aug. 14 due to COVID-19 health-related concerns. The current season includes 36 live racing dates, down from the originally scheduled 52 prior to the pandemic. Due to an Oct. 6 order, the 2020 live racing season was extended for an additional 18 race dates.
In December 2019, Michigan’s Horse Racing Law of 1995 was amended to allow a race meeting licensee to use contracted third-party firms to facilitate wagering on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing. In order to place a wager, a bettor creates an account with a third-party facilitator and can use a mobile device or computer to bet on pari-mutuel races.
The MGCB approved mobile wagering on horse races in a June 26 order.
Northville Downs restarted its live standardbred races on Aug. 14 under MGCB guidance with new safety precautions put in place due to COVID-19. The MGCB issued an order limiting track capacity to no more than 896 people — an 85 percent reduction. To meet the MGCB’s order, the track removed more than 100 tables, chairs and televisions.
Land-based casinos in the state also reopened under strict health and social distancing measures.
Pari-mutuel racing was authorized to resume at Northville Downs under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-160, the board said in a news release.
AmRace & Sports LLC applied for a 2021 race meeting and simulcast permits but its requests were not granted by the MGCB.
In the board’s review of the application, it determined “it was incomplete and lacked necessary and required supporting information.”