Yesterday, May 25, 2016, the House Standing Committee on Agriculture adopted and provided its recommendation to House Substitute (“H-3’) to SB 504, which seeks to amend and revise Michigan’s Horse Racing Law of 1995. The bill, among other things, proposes the establishment of the ‘Horse Racing Advisory Commission’ within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and provides for the possibility of racetracks to conduct simulcast-only operations under certain conditions.

At the Committee hearing, both Hazel Park and  Northville Downs indicated their support of the bill. In addition, various horse racing associations/groups submitted cards in support of the bill. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”), which has overseen the operation of horse racing in Michigan since 2010, remained neutral on bill. The MGCB noted that although Governor Rick Snyder supports the bill, he has significant concerns with the imposition of a Horse Racing Advisory Commission as well as the possibility for simulcast-only operations at tracks.

The proposed Advisory Commission would be vested to do the following:

  • Establish for the Commission procedures governing the operation and promotion of horse racing in Michigan;
  • Make recommendations to the legislature on amendments to the Horse Racing Act that would improve the regulatory structure of horse racing in Michigan; and
  • Submit an annual report to detailing its recommendations to both the MGCB and the legislature.

The bill will now go back to the House floor for a second reading and vote, and should it pass, will be sent back to the Senate for consideration.

Click here to access the current version of SB504.


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