Horse Racing

Yesterday, June 2, 2016, the Michigan House adopted House Substitute (“H-4”) to SB 504, which seeks to amend and revise the 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.

This is the fourth House version of  SB 504 since it passed the Senate on May 10, 2016. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”), which has overseen the operation of horse racing in Michigan since 2010, remained neutral on the previous version of SB 504 noting significant concerns with the imposition of a Horse Racing Advisory Commission as well as the possibility for simulcast-only operations at tracks.

Under the bill, 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.

In addition, the revised bill provides that “the Racing Commissioner shall take under consideration the procedures established by the Advisory Commission…” The bill now goes back to the House floor for a third 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

On May 3, Rep. Bumstead (R-Newaygo) introduced HB 5600, a competing bill that also seeks to revise the Horse Racing Law of 1995. This bill largely seeks to license and regulate Certified Horsemen’s Organizations within the state.

HB 5600 remains before the House Committee on Agriculture.  Both bills also provide for the reduction of the total number of race days required for a track license, and also seek to modify the allocation of simulcast purses to be racetrack specific.

Click here to access the current version of HB 5600

Internet Gaming

Senate Bill 889(“SB 889”), introduced by Sen. Kowall on April 14, 2016, seeks to legalize, regulate and tax Internet gaming within Michigan. It remains before the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee for consideration where it was initially discussed on May 4.

Notably, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), claims the passage of the bill could create 22,000 jobs for Michigan.  The “Lawful Internet Gaming Act” seeks to legalize Internet gaming while specifically prohibiting wagering on any professional or amateur sporting event unless otherwise legal pursuant to state and federal law. Supporters of the bill also estimate that the bill could generate $40 million in revenue and an increased tourism interest within the state.

Under the SB 889, an Internet “casino” would be required to apply for licensure to a proposed division of Internet gaming within the Michigan Gaming Control Board. If granted, a license would be granted for a period of five (5) years. Eligible licensees include existing Michigan casino licensees and federally recognized Michigan Indian Tribes.  The bill proposes a maximum of eight (8) licenses, each required to pay a $5,000,000 license fee with a 10% tax on gross gaming revenues.

In addition, the bill includes age verification restricted to 21 years of age and older. 

Click here to access the current version of SB 889


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