Michigan Race and Sports Wagering
Owing to industry trends and a lackluster economy, horse racing has experienced double-digit wagering decreases in recent years. These decreases have resulted in diminishing state revenues and racetrack profits, and, in turn, reduced numbers of licensees and live racing opportunities.
In 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment (Proposal 1) requiring voter approval for gambling expansion within the state. The constitutional amendment excluded Detroit's three casinos and Indian tribal gaming, but included horse tracks.
In 2005, Michigan Racing, Inc., a subsidiary of Magna Entertainment Corp., was granted a license to build and operate a racetrack facility outside Detroit. In August 2007, Magna Entertainment Corp. relinquished its thoroughbred racetrack license and abandoned its plans for the proposed Michigan Downs track.
In May 2008, a Michigan horse racing lobby filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that casino and state lotteries were killing the horse racing industry and that laws prohibiting slot machines at racetracks violated the U.S. Constitution. In February 2009, a federal judge rejected a bid by horse racing stakeholders to overturn a statewide ballot that prevented tracks from installing slot machines.
In April 2012, Michigan's horse racing industry made its latest attempt at getting electronic games into horse tracks. House Bill 5546 would permit installation of gaming machines at racetracks for placing bets on historical horse races. The measure's intent was to provide a new gaming attraction at horse tracks and hopefully win back revenues lost to casinos and lotteries. In December 2012, after approval by more than 1,000 legislative officials, the bill went to Gov. Rick Snyder. However, he did not sign the bill since he expected it to be appealed as unconstitutional without the approval of Michigan voters.
In June 2016, the House of Representatives passed two bills – SB 504 and SB 505 – that would allow money generated at the two horse tracks in the state to remain at those properties to pay purses and other expenses, as well as banning anyone without a live racing license from accepting internet bets.
In September 2016, the Michigan Gaming Control Board began to implement advance deposit wagering, which allows wagers on simulcast races to be placed via tablets or cell phones without being physically present at the track.
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